Rutgers University’s incredible fusion dance team, Ehsaas, was co-founded by Suchi Gulati and Chandni Patel towards the end of Spring 2009. They started performing on campus the following fall and finally started competing on the collegiate level in 2011. The reasons why they are so successful are because of their dedication and their ability to problem solve given any issue.
How do you recruit new members/hold auditions?
Our recruitment process is pretty much the same as other collegiate teams or student organizations. We try to reach out to people through social media, organization showcases, and other campus events. Tryouts are typically held at the beginning of every semester for three days, starting from 9:00 pm- 12:00 am. Each prospective member has to come to at least one of those days to learn the routine and present it in front of us. We teach three segments (bollywood, hip-hop, and classical/bhangra) to the auditioning dancers. During tryouts, we note who can pick up the choreography the fastest, who is paying close attention to what we say, and who is trying their best to make the team. We try to see who has the potential to be on the team and that is how we select members. We also have a non-competitive team, along with the competitive one. Whoever does not make the competitive team, automatically gets to be in the non-competitive one. We train the non-competitive team members to get better, so that they can try out again for the next season.
How do you approach training freshman and incorporate them into your team's culture?
Every member is unique, so we understand that it might take them time to adapt to our way of executing a segment. Hence, we make sure that we are patient during the training season. We are always open to helping them overcome any difficulties and spend more time with them outside of practice, if necessary. We tell them that it is okay to get things wrong and to get frustrated. As all of our members have different dancing backgrounds, we always encourage our newbies to show us their dance techniques that some of the oldies might not know. We don’t call ourselves a team, we call ourselves a family. We make an effort to ensure that all of the new members feel comfortable and enjoy coming to practice and spending time with all of us.
What are your goals for this season?
While we usually compete both fall and spring semesters, this season we used fall semester to train the new members to competition level for our early spring competitions. We are competing at Tu Bhi Nachle on February 6th and Zahara on February 13th. Our goal is to put on a great show for both of these competitions and have fun. After the competitions are done, we will be focusing more on fundraising. This is because our team does not receive school funding for competitions. Our goal is to financially secure the potential to compete the following season.
What do you think are the biggest challenges within your circuit?
One of the biggest challenges Ehsaas faces is recruitment. Being on a competitive dance team is a huge time commitment, so it is very difficult to find people that can stay on the team and train the new members before they leave. Even if we are two schools combined, our team is very small compared to other competitive dance teams within the circuit and most team members either graduate or take break from the team after a semester or year. So every semester we start with a completely new team and start from scratch.
What do you enjoy most about your team?
Believe it or not, we actually enjoy countless hours of practice together during hell week. Especially when we all get delusional around 4am in the morning and do or say the craziest things possible.
What makes your team different from other teams in the circuit?
We not only compete throughout the circuit but also throw events on our campuses. Ehsaas has two signature events, Ehsaas Formal: Bollywood Night (in the fall) and Ehsaas Showdown (in the spring). Also, this year, Ehsaas had the honor to be part of a documentary, which will showcase how we work and enlighten viewers on what we face during competitions. It will focus on our fall 2015 to spring 2016 year.
Does your team have any traditions?
Ehsaas has several traditions that our founding members started and have been passed on to the future generations. Some traditions are new and some are old. They include celebrating secret Santa, giving the new members team nicknames, giving flowers to Ehsaas girls on Valentines Day, having big and little, playing sweet and sour, farewell present to the seniors, and end of the semester potluck.
What are your team chants?
We only have two small team chants: “Kiss my Ehsaas” and “R-U-Ehsaas.”
Have there been any defining moments or particularly memorable moments for your team?
Last year, at Rutgers’ diversity festival, Ehsaas was recognized as the one and only national competitive dance team on Newark campus. We have 4 other dance teams on campus but all of them are local and non-competitive. This was one of the moments when we were really proud of each other and of the team. Otherwise, car rides to the competitions are always the best. We all open up to each other and play games to get to know each other better.
Which performance is your team most proud of?
Honestly, we are proud of all our performances so to pick a favorite is very hard. We are definitely proud of our A2 Dhoom performance (in Spring '14) because it was a BA Bid competition and we got to compete against other high-caliber teams. We are also proud of our House of Naach performance (in Spring 15) because we could only bring 10 members on stage for that competition, but we still placed third, which was a huge achievement for all of us.
Both of the performances can be viewed below:
These are three random/interesting facts about Ehsaas:
- During hell week, when they get delusional around 4 am in the morning, they start play whale music and jam to it (They aren't kidding).
- They used to be a semester based team (Every semester: new board, new members). However, since the beginning of this past fall, they became a year based team.
- They all try to match their outfits for the after parties. (For example: purple at TMP, white at A2 Dhoom, blue at DKD, green at AKR, and white and gold at HON)