This week’s DDN Spotlight shines on UVA Sharaara, the University of Virginia’s premiere, all-girls, Bollywood fusion dance team. Founded in 2002, this group of passionate dancers has been taking the country by storm while still spreading their love for Indian culture within their homebase of Charlottesville, Virginia. Sharaara prides itself on being an all-female team (who run the world? GIRLS.), and is determined to make their mark on the desi dance circuit this year. Captains, Mili Mittal and Dhara Patel give us a quick look into Sharaara’s dynamics and experiences as one of the oldest teams in the fusion circuit. We wish them the best of luck this season and can’t wait to see their performances! GET PUMPED UP!

How do you approach training freshman, and incorporating them into your team's culture?
Our freshman bring new talent and perspective to the team, which we really value. We not only make sure that the freshmen looking up to and learning from the upperclassmen, but also ensure that upperclassmen are learning from the freshmen and incorporating their ideas as well! Training freshmen to learn our way of executing a segment takes time, so we make sure to be patient during that learning curve phase. In terms of culture, we make sure to create a fun yet productive environment. Every girl on Sharaara loves to dance; while we continue to set and reach our goals, we always have this in mind when bringing on freshmen! Additionally, we start every year fresh, so that no one feels left out.

What do you think are the biggest challenges within your circuit?

One of the biggest challenges at the moment is learning how to navigate the circuit under the new bid system; because of that, though, we’ve really set our goals so as not to worry about the bid points and simply perform a memorable routine.

A challenge for us continues to be competing as an all-female team at the highest level. We believe we have to prove that girls’ teams can deliver just as entertaining and energetic a routine as co-ed and all-male teams.

Another challenge is judging, but that topic is for another day!

Tell us a bit about how your team was established.
We were established as an all-female dance team in 2002 but didn’t become competitive until 2009. We remain the only competitive fusion team on Grounds, and the trend within the team is to now be recognized at the national competitive level!

Have there been any defining moments or particularly memorable moments for your team?
We placed 3rd at South Asian Showdown last year (2015), which was completely unexpected for us. Last year was our first year competing at BA Bid competitions, so to not only compete, but place at one was amazing. Check out their performance HERE!

Our success last year has also translated into our performances in the UVA community this year. We are no longer performing just for the Indian community, but have been invited to perform at sporting events and at traditional UVA events - it’s great to be performing for the entire university.

What are your goals for this season?
Last year we really broke into the circuit, and we’re hoping to continue that trend! Essentially, we just want to compete against high-caliber teams to really push ourselves and also be a strong all-girls dance team to prove that you don’t need guys to excel!

Does your team have any fun/special traditions? If so, what are they?
We initiate new members by hanging posters on their doors’ and surprising them with roses or baked goods! It’s also tradition to treat the newbies to an Indian lunch at Milan (literally the only good Indian restaurant in Charlottesville.)

Another fun tradition is taking a swig of Red Bull before performing on stage-it gets our blood flowing, and it’s been a Sharaara tradition since we’ve started competing.

We also do a Fourth Year Farewell after the end of the season to celebrate our 4th Years and their time on Sharaara! We get them a little tipsy and make them perform every single routine (with expressions and formations) for each year they have been on Sharaara. It’s a hilarious and bittersweet night to say the least!

Fun fact about each of your captains this year?
  • Dhara: “I was part of a FOGANA team when I was younger and after we placed 1st at Nationals one year, I saw a picture of me during the performance on a magazine cover!”
  • Mili: “Traveling is my one true love! I was lucky enough to study abroad during my third year in Milan, Italy and had the opportunity to visit over 20 cities!”