Lisner Auditorium bounced to a South Asian beat Saturday night, as the GW team captured first place in the third annual Raas Chaos competition. Raas Chaos is a dance contest among universities sponsored by the South Asian Society.
With flowing pants and skirts, painted bare feet and headdresses, nine teams spun around the stage, striking each others polished bamboo sticks, known as Dandiyas, together in elaborate formations and synchronized steps.
Competitors included teams from the Universities of Maryland and Michigan, and Columbia and Pennsylvania State Universities. Each team performed for about eight minutes.
A packed Lisner, full of supporters of colleges around the country, cheered for their Raas Chaos teams. “You suck Penn State!” and “Who’s house? G-Dub!” echoed throughout the auditorium, which came alive with pom-poms, signs and drums.
“I was surprised because the competition was so tough,” said freshman Matthew Powell, a GW Raas Chaos dancer. “It’s simply outstanding,”
A panel of five judges rated teams on artistic creativity and style, technical elements including confidence and choreography, traditionalism and a coordination element. Some dances followed a story line, such as creation or celebration of Indian Gods. One-third of the judging criteria is allotted to traditionalism, which may include costumes and props.
“The costumes reflect Indian traditions and is a big part of the judging criteria. That is the whole point of the competition – dancers bring their cultural identity to college students,” said sophomore Deepak Dugar, master of ceremonies for the competition.
The purpose of hosting a Raas Chaos competition was to unite students from across the nation in solidarity and celebration of the Indian culture, students said.
“It brings a sense of unity to Indian kids across the nation and helps teach about the culture and expand the culture around the country,” Dugar said.
Some students held their breath as the winner was announced. When GW’s name was called, the audience roared with excitement and cheers. Amidst tears of joy and laughter, some dancers screamed “I can’t believe this.”
GW Raas Chaos dancers in elaborate black and red costumes with gold beading ran on stage to accept $1,250 prize. The victory marked their second win in Raas Chaos history, taking the first-place trophy from Tufts University.
“I think we did well, we had a lot of fun on stage and we can’t do better than that,” said freshman Nasha Balsara, a GW Raas Chaos dancer.
The University of Michigan won the second place trophy and $750 prize.
The GW team, which had been practicing for the last two months, exuded energy on stage and made some of the most elaborate dance formations, several attendees said.
“They had a lot of energy and awesome team spirit,” sophomore Swati Shroff said. “It seemed as though they had less tension this year and amazing costumes.”