Students, alumni and parents crowded into the Salomon Center’s DECI Auditorium Saturday night to watch the Brown Badmaash Dance Company — the University’s South Asian fusion dance team — perform their annual spring show for the first time in nearly three years. The performance was titled “TAAJ,” meaning “crown” in Hindi, and received a standing ovation in its closing.
The show opened with a group hip-hop fusion performance to “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, during which troupe members came off of the stage and danced in the aisles. The two masters of ceremonies, current Herald graphics chief Aanchal Sheth ’23 and Kabir Randhawa ’23, encouraged audience members to shout, dance and sing along to the music, allowing the performers to feed on their energy.
Badmaash explored multiple dance styles throughout the show, including Bollywood, semi-classical, Raas, Mohiniyattam, garba, Desi hip-hop, merengue and salsa. Each dance was accompanied by its own set of vibrant outfits and multi-colored lighting displays.
Neil Shah ’25, one of Badmaash’s dancers, was particularly fond of the South Indian dance style of the “PVDosas” performance — described in the program as a combination of “retro, goofy Madhavan moves (and) the latest kuthu choreography” — because it was “full of energy. … There was no holding back,” he said.
To give its performers time to change and take a break between dances, Sheth and Randhawa engaged the audience in a game of dance charades and challenged audience members to repeat “Kachcha Papad Pakka Papad” — a Hindi tongue twister — as many times as they could. Sheth also performed her spoken-word poem “How to Say No.”
“TAAJ” featured collaborations with numerous other student organizations including Abhinaya, the South Asian classical dance team, and DAEBAK, the University’s K-Pop dance association. Badmaash also teamed up with Brown/RISD’s Mezcla, a Latinx dance troupe, for a performance titled “Mezmaash,” which was interwoven with comedic parody scenes of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series.
Brown Barsaat, the University's South Asian a capella group, also made an appearance singing mash-ups of Hindi and English songs.
“We really wanted to make a push to involve as many groups as possible,” said Aryan Patidar ’22, one of Badmaash’s captains. While it was sometimes difficult to coordinate, “we wanted to increase our audience, friends and the people we worked with.”
Because of the pandemic, this show was Badmaash’s first performance since 2019 and has been in the works for the last three years, according to Patidar.
This semester “we started getting all of the pieces — the prep-work, staging, lighting — together. (After spring break), we hit the ground running,” Shah said. “It’s a new experience for three years of Badmaash. We’re discovering all of it together.”
Patidar explained that taaj was chosen as the theme of this year's show not only for its color palette but also for “the seniors and captains that haven't done (a performance) in so long. It’s our treasure.”
Audience members enjoyed the performances and interacted with the show by cheering on the dancers.
Like many others, Suraj Anand ’24 and Lella Wirth ’25 came to the show to support their friends in the performance. Wirth particularly enjoyed the show’s traditional South Asian production and costumes.
“It was really good,” Anand said, and a “fantastic performance.”
“I think everyone in the audience could feel how passionate and happy the performers were on stage,” said Lulu Bi ’24, another audience member.
While the group’s schedule was hectic before the show, members will be able to rest for the time being. Patidar said the group will soon begin preparations for competitions over the next year.
“It’s so stressful in the weeks leading up to (the performance) — you get mad and frustrated,” Patidar said. “But when it all comes together, it’s all one family. It’s a different feeling.”