Raas Chaos showcases traditional Indian dancing

Seven Indian dance teams from across the country brought the Lisner Auditorium stage to life Saturday night at the ninth annual Raas Chaos competition hosted at GW.

Raas is an energetic traditional Indian dance style with colorful costumes, intricate formations and synchronized routines. The performers bounced to Indian beats and used colorful sticks made from wood called dandiyas.

This event has grown to be one of the largest intercollegiate Raas competitions in the country. Competitors included teams from Penn State, Virginia Commonwealth University and New York University, among others.

Each team showed an introduction video which introduced the theme of their dance and team members.

The “Whose House? Gdub!” mantra rang throughout the auditorium as the GW Raas team opened the night with an exhibition performance.

“I thought their performance was great,” freshman Divya Venkat said. “Their formations were precise and I think they fed off of the crowd’s energy well. The competition was held here, so many people were cheering for them.”

The Rhythmaya School of Dance, an established group of professional dancers in the D.C. metro area, performed as the second exhibition act. They combined modern and traditional blends to create a contemporary style of dance.

The Raas Chaos competition hopes to foster friendship and unite teams from around the country, and the winner receives a bid to a national competition held in Dallas, Texas. The GW South Asian Society also used the event to raise money for the charity Read Global, which benefits rural children in India, Nepal and Bhutan.

This year, Raas Chaos 2009 partnered with Saavn Mobile to allow all competing Raas Chaos teams and exhibition acts to vote for their favorite performance using their cell phones. Each team was assigned a special code and, during the competition, the performing team’s code was flashed up on a screen.

The NYU team won the first place title, earning the team a check for $1,200. The audience also voted for that team as their pick for the Viewer’s Choice Award.

Columbia University won $800 for their second-place finish, and the University of Pennsylvania came in third and brought home a check for $500.

Penn State, ranked No. 1 in the nation, did not place at Raas Chaos this year. Last year, they won first place at Raas Chaos and received a bid to Raas All-Stars National Championships.

“I was really impressed because I haven’t seen anything like this before. Everything was so colorful and the music was really cool,” freshman Colin Kellogg said.

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