Taal 2013

After the incredible success of Taal 2012 and the “How To Make the Best South Asian Talent Show Ever” promo video for Taal 2013, the audience was pumped and the pressure was on for the Indian Students Association (ISA) to deliver another incredible show. And for the most part, ISA certainly did. On April 6th, 2013, Hogg Memorial Auditorium was jam-packed with an audience ready to enjoy the talent of their fellow Longhorns. ISA chose the theme “The Beat Goes On” for the evening and offered cash prizes of $1000, $500, and $100 to the first place winner, runner-up and crowd favorite respectively.

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            The evening began with a viewing of the Taal 2013 promo video (the second or third viewing for many, thanks to Facebook), setting the energy level high right from the beginning of the show. Following the video, the audience was treated to Rupal Mehta’s impressive rendition of the American national anthem and Arjun Adapalli’s melodic singing of the Indian national anthem. Both singers seemed to truly internalize the anthems, and Arjun even had the audience singing along with him!

            Then, the emcees Arjun Nag and Parth Bhatt danced onto stage and set in motion a humorous undertone for the evening with a great first round of jokes. Although their humor seemed slightly out-of-place at times and sometimes got lost among the audiences’ chatter, most of their jokes flowed naturally, and they successfully kept the audience amused throughout the entire event.

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            The first team to perform was Texas Bhangra. It took them a while to capture the audience’s attention, but, once they did, they bought the characteristic energy of bhangra to the stage and had remarkable stage presence. Everything from their  facial expressions to their dance movements illustrated that they were genuinely enjoying themselves, and thus the audience enjoyed themselves, too. Their skillful use of the saap and their ending pose particularly made their performance stand out.1

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            Following Texas Bhangra was Ajooba’s performance, which was was based on a creative storyline following the girls’ journey through the seven Ajoobas of the world in their quest to stop the villain, Mr. Hero (played by Noman Ahmad). Even though the execution of a few dance sequences was a little chaotic, their performance was full of  memorable moments, a unique selection of songs, and an intriguing mix of choreography.  I commend Ajooba for taking great risks and putting their heart and soul into that performance. This might be one of their last times performing as Ajooba, but I have no doubt that many of us will be seeing even more talent from each of them in the future.

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            The first two competing teams had definitely set the bar high, but Nritya Sangam set the bar even higher. Summed up in three words, their performance showcased elegance, strength, and cohesion. The music selection was perfect mix of classical and hip-hop, their synchronization was precise, and their choreography was captivating. They were fully committed to and immersed in their theme of women empowerment and, as a result, the most effective out of all the teams in conveying their message to the audience.

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            While Nritya Sangam took dancing to another level, UT Saaya brought the performance back home . With a theme centered around Austin, UT Saaya demonstrated a variety of dance styles from kathak to bhangra in the context of every day college experiences. Bubbling with enthusiasm and spirit and performing to familiar tunes such as Just Dance, Gagnam Style, and Dhoom Again, they were clear crowd favorites. However, their moves could have used more polish, and their theme had much more potential for creativity.

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            After the UT Saaya’s performance, the emcees posed the question: what do you get when you add Punjab to JabbaWockeez? You get an all-male fusion dance team that truly knows what it means to perform for the audience. Transforming humor into dance moves, the Punjabbawockeez took the audience back in time to their childhood with songs such as If You Wanna Be My Lover by the Spice Girls and A Whole New World from the Disney classic, Aladdin. Another obvious crowd favorite, they held the audience’s attention throughout their entire performance with funny moments, clean execution, and seamless transitions.

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After intermission, Hum A Capella’s performance was a refreshing start to the second half of the show. Their rendition of Lost in the World had me closing my eyes and literally sent chills through my spine. Their second song, You are My Soniya, was even better. Immediately upon recognizing the song, the audience started singing along. The lead singers’ voices complemented each other very well, and the accompanying voices brought Hum’s performance to the next level. At times, the singing could have been slightly more in tune; however, it certainly did not take away from the overall performance.

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            I’m sure many would agree with me when I say that no team can tell a Bollywood story through dance quite like Nach Baliye can. Their cute, cohesive performance was full of excellent choreography and effectively told an enjoyable story of the shenanigans of two boys who fall in love with the girls that they decide to live with. Perhaps the best thing about their performance was that it was a team effort in which those who played the main characters were well complemented by the rest of the team. Even better, they delivered the “wow” factor, making them one of my personal favorites of the night.

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            Thanks to praise-worthy performances the audience has been cheering loudly all night, but the team that undoubtedly received the loudest cheers was Texas Raas. If there is any team that knows how to fully utilize all elements of the performance in the best way possible, it is Texas Raas. Their choreography and formations showed acute awareness of the stage and how to use it creatively to their advantage. Furthermore, their synchronization was spot on, their energy was tremendous, and their partnership demonstrated heart-warming camaraderie. As usual, their performance surpassed audiences’ expectations.

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            Following a tough act, Mohini delivered a dance number focused on “the seven deadly sins”.  Although they started out strong and were brave enough to really experiment with the choreography, there were many times during which their message got lost in a chaotic mess of movements. If evaluated on pure dancing skill, though, their performance was excellent.

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           Finally, after all competing teams had performed, Blue Flame Productions indulged the audience with an entertaining tribute to the famous faces of Bollywood including Kareena Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, and Madhuri Dixit. The performance was full of hallmark moves and tunes that characterized each of these actors and actresses, and their talent was apparent in the variety of their movements and their infectious spirit. By inviting them to perform, ISA had chosen a great way to close out the show.

The results were as follows:

Winner: Nritya Sangam

Runner-Up: Texas Raas

Crowd-Favorite: UT Saaya

            Overall, the show was a fantastic tribute to the tremendous talent present at UT and the vibrance of Indian culture. All teams put in their full effort into their performances, and ISA did a notable job of taking care of all the little details from selecting the emcees to filming the promo video. Despite some slightly awkward transitioning between events and the delayed start, I’d say the ISA came fairly close to hosting”Best South Asian Talent Show ever”. I would like to thank ISA for a very enjoyable evening and congratulate all the teams on their mesmerizing performances.

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  1. Saap: wooden prop commonly used in Bhangra that makes a clapping noise

Photo credits: Karan Dodia, Gary Hsu (Hum A Capella picture)


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1 comment

  1. Merwan says:

    Apr 10, 2013

    Reply

    Nicely done!

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