On March 4, Brown Badmaash Dance Company — the University’s South Asian fusion dance team — won second place at Case Western Reserve University’s annual Naach Di Cleveland dance competition.
Founded in 2005, Badmaash has around 40 members, according to co-captain Simran Saxena ’25. Members described the club as a diverse and welcoming community, featuring several different styles of dance.
The Herald spoke to Badmaash members about their path to the win in Cleveland and the group’s strong sense of community for South Asian dancers from various backgrounds.
Hard work 'finally paying off'
According to Naveen Abraham ’23, one of two head captains for Badmaash, there are four competition circuits in America for South Asian dance teams — classical Indian dance; Bhangra, another dance style native to South Asia; rock; and fusion, which is the “biggest circuit of all,” he said.
“This year, Badmaash competed at three smaller” competitions, Abraham explained. The last of the three competitions was Naach Di Cleveland.
He detailed the group’s months of preparation before the contests. The team began choreographing for video auditions to submit to the competitions in September and spent the next two months recording.
Then, in January, members arrived on campus one week early to take part in the group’s boot camp. During the boot camp, the members “basically (danced) all day, every day, for a whole week,” said Abraham.
Badmaash members ended their competition season at Naach Di Cleveland and were “shocked” when awarded second place, Saxena said.
“They called our name … and we’re all just looking at each other like, ‘What just happened?’” Saxena recalled. “It was very funny, to say the least.”
But the win also reflected “all of our work that we’ve been putting in for the past three weeks finally paying off,” she added. “People started crying.”
‘A special bond that I really value’: Badmaash fostering community
For Abraham, Badmaash is special because “there is a home for everyone, regardless of where people come from.” He said that because Badmaash is a fusion dance team — combining a variety of South Asian dance traditions with some Western dance elements — people bring several dance styles to the team.
Badmaash lets members express their cultures while participating in a larger community, Saxena added.
“South Asia represents many different cultures and countries, and having a diverse team really is a privilege because people bring in their own backgrounds and you get to learn so much from them,” Abraham added.
Workshop coordinator Rohan Zamvar ’25, who is also part of the group’s competitive team, said he joined Badmaash because he wanted to be part of a strong South Asian community that could help him embrace his culture.
“I auditioned in fall 2021 and was lucky enough to get in,” Zamvar said.
He said that the members’ dedication to Badmaash’s larger mission, along with the sense of community the club brings, makes it special.
“Everyone cares so much about each other so deeply, and we have been through a lot of things together,” Zamvar said. “That just creates a special bond that I really value.”