October 2, 2020
The amazing dancers of Andaaz – Arizona’s only competitive, co-ed Bollywood-fusion dance team – tell stories worthy of a full-length feature film, condensed into eight minutes of blood, sweat and tears. Not only are they able to express their passion for dance onstage, but they can also share their culture through dance while forming bonds to last a lifetime.
Andaaz’s co-captain and long-time dancer Maya Bahl is a third-year student at ASU currently studying business health care. She came across Andaaz while at Culture Fest her first year at ASU.
“I just fell head over heels in love with the organization and the people in it. I couldn’t stop and just be a dancer. I knew I had to really put my heart and soul into it even more and become a leader,” Bahl said.
While being a team member of Andaaz necessitates passion and commitment, as a leader, Bahl and other co-captain Keerthi Harikrishnan handle much of the behind the scenes work, from managing their social media page, assisting with choreography and applying for competitions to being vessels of emotional support for their team.
Harikrishnan is a senior at ASU and is currently studying business management and digital marketing. During her time at ASU, Harikrishnan has been involved in the Programming and Activities Board and the Indian Students Association.
“Being with a fusion team, you get to learn so many styles, and I don’t think I would get that opportunity out of college or if I wasn’t involved in a fusion circuit,” Harikrishnan said. “And also, just being [from] out of state, not really knowing anyone in Arizona ... for me to finally find a community that I could relate to, and that we shared the same passion and love for dance was really nice. We could bond and build lifelong friendships, and that’s pretty much why I joined.”
Each summer, the Andaaz executive board comes together to form a concept or a story to tell, and from costumes to props to dialogue to choreography, they have their work cut out for them to create their signature onstage masterpieces.
"We really emphasize [our] dance, and the passion for dance and really to bring a family attitude to our organization … it becomes an amazing outlet for us to have this whole big family and have brothers and sisters who also attend ASU with us, and we all share the same passion for dance," Bahl said.
Many team members join Andaaz as first-time dancers, but come performance time, the amount of love and effort they pour into their craft is unmistakable. Because of the immense pride she has for her team, Harikrishnan says that she’s the Andaaz mom. Above all, she admires her hard-working team and the supportive, familial bond they all share.
While reminiscing about her favorite memories since joining Andaaz, Harikrishnan remembers the thrill of performing live, which the group did virtually recently for the 2020 ASU Culture Fest.
“When we’re all collectively walking off stage and you see how happy and excited [the team members] are, that adrenaline rush just makes my heart warm. They could have chosen to do something else, and they’re a part of this organization, so my heart’s fulfilled to see that they feel like Andaaz is [their] home,” Harikrishnan said.
Bahl also talked about the love and pride she has for her team while reflecting on her favorite moments with Andaaz.
“Onstage, you can feel the energy of everyone around you as you’re dancing, and it’s on a completely different level when you’re a captain because you feel the love from your members, your family. Like Keerthi said, [the team members] become like our children,” Bahl said.
While tryouts and practices will be held virtually this semester, Andaaz is prepared to continue to share their stories through dance and community. This fall semester, they performed at the Sun Devil Welcome, as well as the graduate program’s fall welcome and the Ask Me Booths through Sports Club. A pre-recorded performance of theirs was also presented at Culture Fest.
“It’s not always about winning, it’s about being together as a family, performing our best and feeling like we did our best onstage. That’s always one important thing that we try to instill, we always want to do our best, whether we win or lose. You want to feel fulfilled on that stage,” Harikrishnan said.