This past weekend, I spent my time bustling around North Carolina State University with my Bollywood-fusion dance team, Chapel Hill Chalkaa. For those that don’t know about the Indian dance circuit, Bollywood-fusion dance is a type of Indian dance that fuses together Eastern and Western styles. This genre combines Bollywood with traditional Indian forms, such as Bharathanatyam and Bhangra, and more modern styles, such as hip hop and contemporary. Not only do teams manage to learn and perfect these various styles of dance, but they must also use their routine to portray a theme. The end result is a complex and enjoyable seven-minute performance that enraptures the audience with its incorporation of a story, often inciting cheers, tears and even teaching a lesson.
While all of the performances were beautifully constructed and very entertaining, one troupe in particular caught my attention. The opening act, performed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s team, UAB Rangeela, focused on an issue prevalent in a world where mental health is quickly becoming recognized as an important part of a person’s well-being. This team did not perform a drama or weave together a classic rom-com; instead, they chose to use their seven minutes of dance to break down stereotypes and to reveal the truth of living with bipolar disorder. They poured their heart and soul into representing the true experience of how bipolar disorder works, working to dispel common myths surrounding the disorder. The team chose to show how those suffering from the disorder actually feel and how it affects the way they are treated. But most importantly, Rangeela’s performance stressed the fact that people are not defined by their disorder–it is simply a part of who they are.