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Penn State JaDhoom Brings Bollywood Dancing To Campus, THON

While Penn State students have a wide range of student organizations to choose from, some have found their home at JaDhoom, the university’s only nationally competing Bollywood fusion dance team.

JaDhoom was formed in 2007 and has been competing as part of the Desi Dance Network for the past 16 years. The team travels for competitions in hopes of reaching Legends, the national competition, in April. So far this semester, it has traveled to New Jersey and Virginia Tech.

JaDhoom takes a novel approach by adding modern elements to its dance routines.

“I think we’re just basically trying to fuse different dance styles together,” JaDhoom dancer Aishwarya Shaji said. “We do like folk style dances, one of them’s bhangra. We do classical Indian dances. We do Bollywood…mix Bollywood and Hip-Hop.”

JaDhoom has performed at THON for the last several years. It won first place in this year’s THON showcase and took the stage twice during THON’s 46 hours.

“It was just a tradition that kept going,” said Shaji.

JaDhoom won a first-place prize and donated all $3,000 to THON.

Being a part of THON gives JaDhoom room to share its passion with Penn State but also doubles as a recruiting effort. The team has tried to rebrand itself following the pandemic by becoming more involved in on-campus events.

“Even if we don’t think we’re going to realistically win something, we’re still going to go so we can get the exposure. That’s partly what the showcase was for us, practicing for our first competition,” Shaji said.

While performing in THON is different than its normal competitions, the team felt confident and honored to be part of the cause.

“Prepping for THON was easy…the only difficult part was adjusting to the stage layout,” said dancer Manaswee Mishra. “It was a little difficult to get a lot of people to perform since we had back-to-back competitions the week before, but we knew it was for a good cause, so we put a lot of effort into it.”

For JaDhoom, taking the stage during THON meant reaching more students and creating a feeling of unity in the Bryce Jordan Center.

“For some people on the team, it was their first time being in front of an audience that big,” said Mishra. “It felt amazing to be on stage in front of people who all are there for the same cause.”

JaDhoom holds annual tryouts at the beginning of each fall semester. For more information, visit the team’s Instagram.

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About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a freshman studying journalism from New Jersey. She has the misfortune of rooting for the New York Giants, but at least they have Saquon! You can send ways for her to meet Saquon to her instagram @aconnington26 or watch her obsess over Harry Styles and Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

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