Dance 4 Me raises funds for Puerto Rico

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Dance 4 Me raises funds for Puerto Rico

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By Sumya Mohiuddin, news staff

The night was filled with high energy and cheers erupting from the balcony of Blackman Auditorium as 15 dance groups performed at the annual Dance 4 Me competition Sunday to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Proceeds from the show went to Americares, an organization that helps those affected by poverty and disaster by providing health-focused relief.

A fusion between the “Cha-Cha Slide” and “Jump on It” blared on the speakers as Northeastern’s Filipino/Filipino-American group, Barkada, took the stage. Coconut shell halves covered some of the dancers’ torsos and thighs as the group performed an indigenous dance called maglalatik. The performance, which combined modern music with Filipino culture, won the Crowd Favorite award.

“[The win] was really unexpected. In the end, we realized all the hard work we did. [Our] mindset was in a different space, and we were not in the mindset to win,” said Martin Narciso, NU Barkada’s co-performance coordinator and fourth-year criminal justice major.

The dance also included songs such as “Question” by Chris Brown and “Kill the Light” by Jess Glynne. Barkada’s other performance coordinator, Kat Gunara, said the group had an energetic opening and a strong finale. Their interaction with the other performers echoed sentiments of the event’s purpose to bring different people together.

“Half of the audience were performers, and being a part of it, I saw a space where we can all come together and show support for each other, not as competing groups but as people,” said Gunara, a second-year business management major.

The New England Bhangra Club, founded in January 2013, is the only competitive and co-ed team that represents the Boston area. A co-captain of the club, Riya Malrani, shared the same thoughts about community at the event.

“People were cheering so loud. The groups were so happy for everyone else on stage. It was good to see a community bond where everyone was cheering for each other,” said Malrani, a fourth-year health science major. “They were not worried about their own performance, and it was good to see everyone appreciate each other. There was no negative vibe.”

The Bhangra Club used saaps, accordian-looking props and khundas, hooked sticks, during their performance to showcase the history of the dance, which is historically performed by men. Their fluid movements and vibrant outfits which they designed themselves, gave audience members a taste of what Bhangra dancing entails.

Their culturally-driven performance earned the group the Best Competing Team award. The event allowed Malrani and her team to showcase their cultural pride.

“Dance, for our team personally, is a way to express our culture. Living here, you may not be exposed to much Indian stuff. However, it is a really cool thing to see the exposure [during the event],” Malrani said. “Dance is a form of art, a form of expressing yourself. Other people can do it by plays and art shows, so it was really cool to see other people’s cultures through dance.”

Second-year finance major Sameer Sheik and third-year communication studies major Amber Delotsang hosted Sunday’s event. Sheik, who is also the treasurer for UTSAV, a word meaning ‘festival’ in Sanskrit, is a South-Asian club on campus. The club succeeded at bringing various organizations together for the event.

In the end, eight student organizations and seven dance teams performed. They were judged not only by the audience, but also by Mitali Biswas, a classically-trained Bharatanatyam dancer; Junior Cius, leader of the dance crew CrewNex; and Reia Connor, the director and choreographer for the Boston Celtics Junior Dance Team, Lilphunk.

After the winners were determined, Delotsang, also the liaison for Kappa Phi Lambda, an Asian-interest sorority, presented the award for Best Student Group to her own sorority. The group showcased their connectivity on stage, which landed them their award.

According to third-year computer science major Melanie Chan, the event raised $2,800 for Americares. Three additional fundraisers were held at Double Chin in Chinatown, Blaze Pizza in Fenway and Kung Fu Tea near Symphony, but the final total has not yet been calculated.

“Northeastern has a variety of cultural groups on campus. There is a great sense of diversity, Narciso said. “You don’t need to be a part of any particular culture to be a part of a group. [This event] is a great way to showcase what students are doing creatively.”