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UMN’s Dhoom celebrates diversity through multicultural fusion dance

Dhoom allows students to explore their culture through dance.
Dhoom members pose at the University of Minnesota.
Image by Dhoom Dance Crew (courtesy)
Dhoom members pose at the University of Minnesota.

A multicultural non-competitive dance group at the University of Minnesota, Dhoom, focuses on Indian dance styles with other dance genres.

Dhoom performs at cultural events and features around 20 student dancers. The team is led by student captains and choreographers.

Sami Kanukunta, a fourth-year industrial systems engineering student at the University, said she joined Dhoom because she loves dancing.

“It’s one of my biggest passions,” Kanukunta said. “It’s also a great way to meet new people in the Indian community or just people who are also passionate about dancing as well and also get to perform and learn new dances.”

Ojaswini Thodupunoori, said she has done Indian classical dance and Bollywood dance since she was younger, adding she has made good friends in Dhoom.

“They are such amazing people and it’s just so awesome to dance with them,” Thodupunoori said. “They’re so loving and so open.”

As a premed student, Thodupunoori said she spends a lot of time focused on academics, and Dhoom gives her something fun to do.

“This is my self-care time where I can spend [time] doing something I love instead of something that’s really hard to do or stimulating to the brain,” Thodupunoori said.

Dhoom holds auditions in the fall and spring, and audition information can be found on their social media. Thodupunoori said while she felt nervous before the audition, the process was not difficult.

“I was really well supported before my audition,” Thodupunoori said. “It’s not really about memorization, it’s more about feeling the music and enjoying yourself. It was very chill.”

Anindita Rajamani, a fourth-year University student majoring in computer science, said she never had any formal dance training.

“The cool thing about Dhoom is you’re not expected to have any formal training to join the team,” Rajamani said. “I’m self taught and that wasn’t a problem when I was auditioning.”

Dhoom practices twice a week for two hours at the University Recreation and Wellness Center, Rajamani said. Students choreograph the dances and combine many different dance styles like Bollywood, hip-hop, bhangra and more.

Dhoom features five different songs and dances within each performance, Thodupunoori added.

“It’s not a monotone dance,” Thodupunoori said. “It’s super different for every single set.”

Not only do Dhoom dancers learn the dance moves, Kanukunta said they discuss the theme of songs, practice facial expressions and think about how to connect with the audience.

“It’s a great way to bond, spread our culture and learn about other cultures in the process as well,” Kanukunta said.

Kanukunta added that choreographers implement a mix of easier songs and more difficult ones. Dhoom adjusts practices in order to make sure the dancers feel confident with each song.

“I don’t think I’ve ever finished a season or performance where I’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is way too difficult for me to pick up,’” Kanukunta said.

Dhoom performs a few times a year in the fall and spring depending on events going on, according to Rajamani.

Thodupunoori said she loves being able to explore different facets of Indian culture through Dhoom and practice dance in a non-competitive setting.

“There’s a lot of Indian dance on campus,” Thodupunoori said. “I got really lucky to be accepted into this one and also be a part of this one.”

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  • Anjana
    Dec 5, 2023 at 11:49 am

    Great team

  • Spiff
    Dec 5, 2023 at 8:08 am

    Is this for women only?