Picture this… you’ve just stuffed yourself full of delicious rice, naan, and paneer and are finally settling into your seat in Langford Auditorium. You and your friends are buzzing with excitement- your suitemate decided out of the blue to join a dance in The Dances of South Asia (TDS), aka SACE’s annual showcase, and you have come out to support them. The lights dim, the dancers populate the stage, and the first notes of music fill your ears making you basically dancing in your seat yourself. You wonder- how did they pull all of this amazing music together? Where can I listen to more?
Here, I’ve put together an overview of the music behind one such TDS dance. My name is Priya Bhatt (she/her), and I am very honored to be one of the co-choreographers of TDS’s Fusion Black dance alongside sophomore Ramya Vadapalli (she/her) this year. The style of Fusion dance is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a mixture of South Asian and American dance styles, ranging from hip hop to Bollywood to contemporary and more.
Ramya and I worked hard this summer to put together a master mix that represented the blend of flavors we wanted to have in our dance. Here, we’ve broken down our master mix segment by segment. There are a lot of songs you might recognize, and a few that may be totally new to you. We are so excited for you to preview what you’ll get to hear and see at the TDS showcase this November 12th.
NO HANDS BY DJ CUB3D
When people think about music from India, they might think of music from Bollywood – aka the Hindi film industry based in the city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay). What they might not realize is that India is a country with a lot of spoken languages and separate film and music industries to suit. Kollywood in Tamil, Tollywood in Telugu, and Mollywood in Malayalam make up just a few parts of the overarching Indian cinema industry.
The intro segment of our Fusion Black master mix strives to connect aspects of all of these different industries and diverse cultures within India. The mix, posted on Soundcloud by DJ CUB3D, features classic hits in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam over the hype production of “No Hands” by Waka Flocka. DJ CUB3D ties together a multitude of songs that we don’t normally get to hear together and lays it all over a popular American beat that we know and love (at least, I know I was vibing with it when Wacka played here last semester!).
TAP IN SHEILA BY DJ AMSAL
The sound of the harmonium* is one that typically inspires feelings of serenity and spirituality. However, when played in the series of notes signaling the intro of fan favorite “Sheila Ki Jawaani”…
You know it’s about to get real.
“Sheila Ki Jawaani” is a song that invokes a sexier side of the Indian music industry. For me, this song is a symbol of empowerment and fun. For others, including a petitioner who sought to ban the Bollywood hit, this song is a symbol of immorality and indecency.
Whatever your opinion may be, the undeniable truth is that actress Katrina Kaif delivered an iconic dance performance* that popularized this song for years to come. It’s interesting to note that in popular Indian music, many son
gs are introduced through the movies in which they are featured (such as “Badtameez Dil” from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or “Naatu” from RRR). It’s often the dance performance put on by leading actors and actresses, rather than the vocal performance or musical production, that is remembered by audiences for years to come. “Sheila” definitely falls into this category- Kaif’s performance characterizes the song as the fun anthem that many of us know and love it for.
What better song to combine with “Sheila” than another high energy anthem? The second segment of TDS Fusion Black features a mix by DJ Amsal combining “Sheila” with THE “Tap In” by Saweetie. This mix deftly navigates the most recognizable parts of the production of each song, elevating the vibes like no other.
SICKO MODE BHANGRA BY DJ TYKUN
One of the most difficult yet rewarding dance styles Ramya and I have gotten to tackle in our fusion dance journey is the style of Bhangra. Originating in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, Bhangra is known for its high energy and unique musical style. You may have gotten the chance to watch our very own Bhangradores* deliver killer performances of this genre in various campus settings.
Ramya and I knew that the brave souls who signed up for our TDS dance would love to take on the challenge of learning a Bhangra segment and the technique associated with it (by the way, we’ve finished learning this segment in rehearsal and our dancers are absolutely killing it). We also knew that we had to pick a mix for the segment so hype that it would carry us to perform past our maximum energy as one needs to in order to do Bhangra justice.
Luckily, we found this mix by DJ Tykun made for Bollywood-Fusion dance team Darzana that combines the instantly recognizable “Sicko Mode” with several Bhangra songs. Tykun uses the iconic beat drops of “Sicko Mode” to provide a whole unexpected layer to the Bhangra lyrics and vibe. Our choreo to this segment may be exhausting, but honestly, it really doesn’t feel like it. The mix is too fire to stop dancing!
JUST THE WAY YOU ARE BY DJ CUB3D
After so many hype segments in a row, Ramya and I wanted to round things out with something sweet and joyous. We decided to go with this mix, again by DJ CUB3D, made for University of Texas at Dallas competitive Bollywood-fusion team Laksh. Here, DJ CUB3D combines classic Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” with “Sun Sohniye” from the movie APrfsar.
“Sun Sohniye” features a specific style of Bhangra music called Jhoomar. Also known as a dance of ecstasy, Jhoomar is a more rhythmic style of Bhangra typically performed during weddings and other major celebrations. The joyous vibes of Jhoomar perfectly carry through in the melodic “Sun Sohniye.”
DJ CUB3D and UTD Laksh chose an amazing American song to complement the meaningful tradition of Jhoomar Bhangra. Dancing to “Just the Way You Are” provides a great avenue for us as dancers to honor our classmates who will grace Langford Auditorium to watch us dance. I personally think it will also be a wonderful, yet bittersweet, celebration of everything that our dancers have accomplished in our time together. Many have never danced before, yet they are exceeding our expectations and performing our choreography (which we are now realizing is a lot more difficult than we intended it to be) at an excellent level. As our final segment, this mix definitely ends Fusion Black 2022 on a high note.
Or is it?? 😉
Perhaps Ramya and I have a couple tricks up our sleeve…
COME TO SACE’S SHOWCASE, THE DANCES OF SOUTH ASIA (AKA TDS) ON NOV 12 TO FIND OUT!!!!
P.S. I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who helped me and Ramya on the master Fusion Black mix including my sister Arohi, Keyanah Alexis, Matt Eyles, Prisha Punjwani, and Krisha Shah.
Katrina Kaif’s Performance of “Sheila Ki Jawaani”
Photo Credit: @emerylittlephotography