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Skirball hosts south Asian dance competition

Posted on December 3, 2012 | by Paige Brott

On Saturday evening, upbeat South Asian music and vibrant energy filled NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

The occasion was The Manhattan Project 4.0, New York City’s premier South Asian dance competition, founded by NYU alumni Aditi Gogate, Sanwari Gupta and Abhinav Somani.

During their time at NYU, Gogate and Gupta led NYU Nasha, NYU’s all-female South Asian dance troupe, and Somani led NYU Pandemonium, NYU’s premier hip hop and bhangra dance troupe. Their close friendships and experiences in the dance world led to the creation of The Manhattan Project. The project aims to provide a platform to showcase the talent and creativity of South Asian student dancers and to spread the knowledge of South Asian culture and fusion dance.

The competition this year, which was the fourth Manhattan Project, featured 10 of South Asia’s top coed fusion dance teams, comprised of nearly 200 dancers total.

“This year, we have a new venue, the teams’ performance features more props, and the energy is bigger than ever,” said Manhattan Project director Kamna Gupta.

The event was hosted was by University of Delaware students Nikhil Paul and Shane LaCoss, whose comedic enthusiasm fueled the energy in the audience.

Members of 10 dance teams from universities across North America performed at the event. Gupta said these were chosen from 35 teams who submitted videos showcasing their dance skills. The teams chosen to perform at Skirball had the chance to compete for the grand trophy.

Each team showcased their dance talents and high energy through storytelling, which included video presentations introducing the teams and exhibiting the creative themes of their performances. The performances represented a fusion of traditional Bollywood, hip hop, Latin, jazz, bhangra, Bharatnatyam and even some Gangham style.

“[I] think the energy is so great and the themes are super creative,” said Stern sophomore Nikita Singh, who attended the event. “It is great to [see] the fusion of classical, Bollywood and hip hop in one performance as well as non-South Asian dancers [showing] their talent and appreciation for South Asian culture.”

First place went to Rutgers University’s Sapa, a group that constructed an exciting Bollywood fusion performance that centered around starting a dance revolution and defeating the evil Big Brother. Fizaa from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign constructed their colorful performance around the plot of the musical “Footloose,” which won them second place. The third place spot went to University of Arizona’s Om Shanti, who used the theme of revenge and a crazy love triangle for their energetic performance.

“It was great watching the performances after … months of hard work come together,” Gupta said. “It has been an honor to work with such a dedicated team of individuals.”

For more information on The Manhattan Project, visit

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 3 print edition. Paige Brott is a staff writer. Email her at


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