The Men Of Dance (MOD) Project is an independent team, based in Chicago, where all but a few of their members are from UIC. Several of the dancers were on various teams prior to joining The MOD Project. Some of these teams included Chicago Dhamaal (co-ed fusion), UIC Nazaara (co-ed bollywood), UIC Dangeraas, and Ministry of Bhangra. During the 2013-2014 season, some of the dancers, from these various teams, decided to get together and put on an all guys desi fusion performance at the annual India Night Show at UIC. What originally began as a fun showcase idea, in which they jokingly called their act "The Ministry Of Dhazaara," or MOD with a different meaning, had amazing feedback. The audience went wild and said it was very entertaining to watch. Combined, they all loved breaking out of their creative comfort zones and decided to ban together to officially compete in the circuit. They just finished their second competitive year, with a bang, by placing second at Bollywood America (or Nationals) and also receiving an award for the Best All Male Team of the Year.
How do you recruit new members/hold auditions?
We reach out to any students, or working professionals, in the Chicago area that are searching for something unique to do in their spare time. We look for rhythm and stage presence more than anything, as these reflect innate sense and personality. In addition, we like to spend a few minutes getting to know each individual's goals and commitment level. We also allow online submissions, as we want everyone to have an opportunity to join.
We are actually holding auditions this week! Check out https://www.facebook.com/menofdance for info.
How do you approach training freshman and incorporating them into your team's culture?
The MOD team culture is about confidence, honesty, and love. Love for each other, ourselves, and our goals. This has constantly proven to be good for motivation and getting our dancers hype about the routine and season ahead of them.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
The Bollywood-Fusion circuit has been such a blessing for us in our dance and personal lives and we want to stay involved in it however we can. We are trying to plan out our season, which may include competitions or showcases; whichever is most appropriate. In addition, we are looking to compete at choreo-based competitions outside our circuit as well.
What do you think are the biggest challenges within your circuit?
There are a multitude of obstacles that we face in our circuit. Some of these include judging, dance styles, and logistics, but the biggest challenge could be not getting so caught up on all these little challenges. We believe they should be approached with less aggression and more positivity. Our circuit should always be grateful for all opportunities and this amazing community we have built. Most important, it should not forget the amazing creative achievements we are making.
What do you like most about your team/teammates?
The vigor and passion. So many of us have learned how to truly push ourselves by constantly motivating or competing against one another. We try not to make any excuses and it has brought us closer, specifically through any physical and mental limitations we thought we had. The best part is that we try to achieve this through a positive will, nothing is forced.
What do you enjoy most about your team?
The most enjoyable part of this team is the love for dance. It is an experience unlike any other. We gauge ourselves on satisfaction with our experience onstage and how it is received, not by trophies, YouTube views, etc.
What makes your team different from other teams in the circuit?
The creative risk. There are so many teams out there constantly pushing borders; this year was especially evolutionary. But we feel like we were much more on the side of recklessness than we did during our previous team experiences. While we hope to execute and look as professional as possible, testing out any and all of our ideas has become a staple to the MOD experience.
Are there any traditions your team has?
We have a lot of motivational talks that can drag and use up a lot of our time. But we don't consider them a waste because they have been some of the most emotional moments we have had and they always bring the team together. Those discussions have helped guide our men through more than dance: stress from work, school, relationships, even illness and deaths in the family. These talks have provided opportunity for mentoring and support.
What are your team chants?
Our official chant was provided by our team member Shevin Ellickal; a bible verse that says not to falter even in your darkest moments, followed by our team slogan. It goes like this:
"As I Walk,"
(Through the Valley!)
"Of the Shadow,"
"I will have,"
"I will have,"
"I will have,"
"The Hype Is Real!"
Which performance is your team most proud of?
The performance that we are most proud of is Bollywood America 2016.
Have there been any defining moments or particularly memorable moments for your team?
At our first competition of the season, Jhalak at UT Austin, we were in the bottom half. Though we did not place, we were still extremely proud of the performance we put forth there, but knew we had to improve. At our second competition, Buckeye Mela, we were able to place second, against a very strong lineup. This performance brought several of our members to tears. More than the award, we were elated that we had all achieved a goal together in the way we wanted.
Please list 3 random/interesting facts about the team
- We like chocolate milk.
- We like to hit the sexy walk.
- Raag Shah is single.
Please list any social media accounts: