Shruti Kapoor, president of RIT Bhangra, will kick off a traditional desi dance party, Nachle Sari Raat, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight on Saturday. Kapoor leads the club in planning a large dance event every spring semester to celebrate the rich Indian culture on campus. The folk dance club performs a mix of traditional and modernized Bhangra routines. The New Delhi, India, native is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: My older brother goes to RIT so my parents felt comfortable sending me to the same university knowing that I have some family here. When I arrived at RIT, I loved the diversity aspect because it reminds me there is a big Indian community here. I also like the one-on-one engagement with my Liberal Arts professors in the international global studies program.
Q: Why did you decide to double major in new media marketing and international global studies?
A: I started out only majoring in international studies because I have always been interested in doing something with a global focus. At the end of my freshman year, I felt like I could be doing a lot more because there are so many opportunities here. I decided to pursue a double major so I did some research on other programs and came across new media marketing. I think marketing was the right fit because I realized that I'm interested in global marketing.
Q: How did you get involved with RIT Bhangra?
A: My freshman year I saw Bhangra perform at Basant, a competition for Indian dance clubs in the Upstate New York area hosted at RIT. I liked the fact it was something I hadn't done before so I got in contact with the president through one of my friends involved with the club. The president gave me an overview of the club and asked me to join the eboard as a vice president. I took over as president this semester.
Q: How would you describe the Bhangra dance form?
A: It's a traditional folk dance from Punjab in Northern India. You can dance to traditional Bhangra, which is the old folk songs, or you can mix it up with the new hip-hop songs. We try to incorporate both styles in our routines. The dance form is basically lots of energy and bouncing on your feet. In general, the foundational moves stay the same you just have to twist them up a bit.
Q: As president of the club, what are some of your goals?
A: I would like to continue focusing on doing small social events and fundraisers because we get a lot more student engagement from the events. I want to get the club's name out there and perform outside of RIT. My second priority would be to make the club more diverse. Our team is mostly Indian members and I would like to have students from other cultures participate in the club. Anyone is welcome to join and you don't need any prior dancing experience. We have members on our team who didn't know how to dance and we have taught them.
Q: Why did the club start hosting Nachle Sari Raat?
A: We started this tradition last year to celebrate Indian culture on campus and it was quite a success, which is why we are continuing it. The event is our spring Bollywood gala and we hope to make it an annual event. There will be a variety of cultural booths, Indian food and we end the night with a big desi dance party.
Q: What new features does the gala have this year?
A: We have an Indian fashion show for men and women so wearing desi outfits is encouraged. Students can win prizes at the trivia booth and get tattoos at the henna booth. There also will be a talent show and students can perform any talent such as singing, dancing or standup comedy. The audience will vote on their favorite act and the winner will receive a prize. We also will be performing our new dance routine.
Q: Can you describe the dance routine the club will be performing?
A: Every semester the team works on creating a new routine. The routine is just us being creative with the songs and coming up with new choreography. The seven-minute routine we will perform on Saturday is made up of 12 traditional and modern songs. The mix of genres gives the routine a good balance of fast and energy based songs. Our performing team is between 10 and 12 members.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories at RIT so far?
A: Last semester, when we performed at Global Unification it was lots of fun because it was the first time we had a big team. I also enjoyed learning how to ice skate here.
Traci Turner compiles "Student Spotlight" for University News. Contact her at email@example.com with suggestions.