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Kalakriti Performing Arts & Raas All Stars Presents the 10th Year of Raas Competition

Photos: Preet Mandavia & Praneeth Gogineni

Photos: Preet Mandavia & Praneeth Gogineni

By Meghan Patel & Umbar Malik

DALLAS, TX : Finally the much awaited date of March 31, arrived when the top 8 national Garba RAAS team met in Dallas, TX to complete under the Kalakriti Performing Arts & RAS All Stars banner. Kalakriti Performing Arts a well known non-profit in Houston for brining Ramleela and other Indian epic on stage. RaaS All Stars (RAS) established in 2008, has become a leading dance organization across the country that not only brings together collegiate raas dancers to compete for the championship title, but also helps to spread awareness and appreciation for our rich Indian culture.

This year, Raas All-Stars celebrated its 10th anniversary by hosting the RAS X National Championship in Richardson, Texas on March 31st 2018, and by officially becoming recognized as a nonprofit organization that is in part funded by the Richardson Cultural Arts Commission. Ten years ago, members of the Gujarati community started this competition as a way to harvest an appreciation for the art form of garba/raas in younger generations and, through the years, RAS has grown into an umbrella organization that helps to overlook the development of individual university level raas competitions and also provide guidance and support to both new and veteran dance teams.

Raas-in-1

Teams qualify for the RAS stage by competing at RAS bid competitions that are hosted by universities across the country during the seven months leading up to RAS weekend. These RAS Bid Competitions are expected to not only follow certain judging and logistical guidelines, but also award RAS bid points to the teams who place at these competitions. Teams who place first, second, and third are awarded 4, 2, and 1 bid point respectively.

Ultimately, these points are accumulated, and at the end of the dance season, the eight teams with the highest number of points are invited to compete at the final Raas All-Stars stage for a chance to earn the championship title. This year, with fifteen official bid competitions at schools such as UT Austin, University of Florida, and University of Maryland, teams were provided with more opportunities to compete and earn a place at the final stage. The 2018 Raas All-Stars competitors that emerged at the end of this past season were CMU Raasta, UT Austin Dirty South Dandiya, UMD EntouRaas, RU Raga, UH Roarin’ Raas, UTD TaRaas, UVA HooRaas, and UConn Thunderaas.

Raas-in-2

The planning process to welcome the elite eight to Dallas on March 31, began in the summer of 2017 when the RAS X board comprised of 34 members from across the country came together with the single vision to celebrate the decade of dance that Raas All-Stars has been able to cultivate for the past ten years. Some of these members included former raas dancers, Bollywood fusion dancers, competition directors, or passionate leaders within the dance community. In addition to the Executive Board, RAS X greatly appreciated the guidance and support from beneficiaries, Kalakrti Performing Arts and Ekal Vidyalaya, who were instrumental in helping with the logistical planning and ticket sales for this year’s event.

From the Friday night Mela and Mixer filled with games, food stalls, gifts, and show order reveal, to the personalized team banners and decorated hotel rooms, RAS was determined to welcome these talented teams to a championship weekend they would never forget. Each team brought a mesmerizing and impressive performance that left the audience in awe, but in the end the National Championship and Runner Up titles were awarded to UT Austin’s Dirty South Dandiya and UTD TaRaas, respectively.

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Into the next decade, Raas All-Stars hopes to continue being a leader in the dance community, inspiring younger generations to appreciate the Indian heritage through dance and creating a welcoming community that individuals from all backgrounds feel comfortable joining.

Kalakriti Performing Arts is non-profit organization with mission to support Indian culture and heritage through artistic and visual dance forms. Over the years Kalakriti has worked with several other Houston non-profit organizations to support their fundraiser, Ramleela a signature event of Kalakriti held annually at VPSS Haveli.

Ramleela 2018 will be held on October 7, 2018.   For more information and for future event details please visit www.kalakritiusa.org or www.facebook.com/kalakritiusa

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