The intercollegiate garba-raas dance competition, Raas Royalty, will take place at 7 p.m. March 2 at the IU Auditorium.
Raas Royalty was founded in 2010 by a group of IU students with the goal of spreading Indian culture and the love of dance on campus. Both garba and raas are traditional forms of Indian dance. The event is free and open to the public. It remains the only free garba-raas competition in the country.
“I think it means a lot just because Indiana and IU itself is not as diverse as everyone would like it to be,” said Dhara Shukla, IU senior and director of Raas Royalty. “It’s a community for at least people like me to feel like they have a little place from home on campus.”
The competition invites eight intercollegiate teams from around the nation to compete for the crown. This year’s teams come from Northwestern University, Michigan State University, Saint Louis University, University of Chicago, University of California, Riverside, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Washington and Washington University in St. Louis.
IU’s garba-raas dance team, HoosierRaas, cannot compete in Raas Royalty because the competition is at their home school, but the team will perform as an exhibition act prior to the competition.
“I think it’s just cool being on the other side of the competition, not actually competing but being there and getting to see how the whole competition is run,” said Shriya Jain, IU sophomore and HoosierRaas team captain.
Each team will perform a six to seven minute routine. Shukla said the teams come up with a theme for their dance, which have included Monsters, Inc., Monopoly or carnival in the past. HoosierRaas used the popular sitcom “Friends” as their theme for this season’s performances.
Following all of the performances, five judges will evaluate the teams in categories of artistic elements, choreography and execution, and then they will finalize the placings.
The first place team will receive $1,500, followed by $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. In addition to the cash prizes, the teams that place will also receive bid points. At the end of the competition season, the eight teams with the most bid points will go on to compete at "Raas All-Stars: The National Championship."
“I’m excited to see what the other teams bring to the stage," Jain said. "I know that we have a lot of good teams coming and it will be a lot of fun.”
Along with the competition, Raas Royalty also includes a number of exhibition acts that feature different IU teams. Following the competition there will be four acts from HooSher Bhangra, Resting Pitch Face, Hip Hop ConnXion and the Grand Piano Lifters.
“Not only do they get to see eight teams from around the nation perform Raas and get to learn more about the Indian culture, but they also get to see their own IU Hoosier teams as well,” Shukla said.
Jain said she is very excited to be able to perform at the IU Auditorium, because Raas Royalty typically brings out a big audience.
“It’s such a rush to get up on stage,” Jain said. “I always get a little nervous right before I go on but the second I get on to the stage, I just forget all of the anxiety.”