By Grace Dille
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center will host Maryland Minza, a first-year national intercollegiate South-Asian fusion dance competition Nov. 4 at 6 p.m.
The word ‘Minza’ means ‘star’ in Urdu, a language spoken primarily in Pakistan. Meghana Annadata, Sonia Arya, and Neha Gupta — all founders of Maryland Minza — chose the name in 2016 to embody the essence of performing.
“Because this is Maryland’s first fusion competition, we are super excited to show the DMV area what Minza is all about,” said Lasya Komaragiri, public relations chair for Maryland Minza.
The six teams will compete for first and second place titles to win trophies and cash prizes. Other groups competing include Gator Adaa from the University of Florida, JOSH from Johns Hopkins University, Adaa from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Tufaan from Georgia Tech, Mirchi from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Rhydhun from Duke University.
Teams will intertwine varying themes, storylines and dancing styles into their routines, including Bollywood, Bhangra, Indian classical (Bharatanatyam), Indian folk (Garba-Raas), hip-hop, contemporary, salsa and West-African.
Exhibition performances will draw from Indian-fusion dancers and Youtubers Poonam & Priyanka, as well as from Maryland Dhoom, a South Asian fusion dance team on campus.
According to Komaragiri, the goal of Maryland Minza is to “make sure the teams and the audience have a great experience.”
“We want our audience members to not only enjoy watching the dances that these teams worked so hard on, but also learn more about what fusion dancing is, and how it plays a role in our culture,” Komaragiri said.
Neha Gupta, Maryland Minza’s co-founder and director, said that although the group had originally planned for the competition to be in spring 2017, it had to be pushed back one semester for unforeseeable reasons.
“Typically, dance competitions use just under a year to plan,” Gupta said. “In hindsight, it ended up working out that we had extra time, given that it’s a first-year competition.”
This event will give the audience a chance to “appreciate other cultures and styles they may not otherwise be exposed to, and walk away seeing how dynamic the art of dance can be in expression,” Gupta said.