Origins National Classical Dance Competition Held for College Teams

By Aishwarya Chitnis & Renny Padiyara

HOUSTON: Origins Classical Dance Championship is a national competition for college dance teams across the country that promote the classical dance styles including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Odissi.

Origins Championship is an organization that was founded in 2019 by a group of individuals determined to shed light and bring more awareness to the classical dance styles in this generation. As a “collegiate circuit”, we aim to push the boundaries of modern storytelling in the classical dance styles that will bring awe to anyone in the audience.

Up until 2019, the circuit only consisted of regional competitions for the collegiate teams. The Origins Championship board then stepped in to act as a parent organization for these competitions and build a points system for the competition season. Teams could then attend these regional competitions to earn “bid points” based on their performance. The teams’ performance over the whole season would ultimately result in a “final standings” and the top 8 teams qualified for the national championship.

Unfortunately, the first year we started this, the COVID-19 pandemic spread, and we had to cancel the championship for the year. During our 2nd year, we had organized a virtual season amongst all regional competitions (bid competitions) and conducted a virtual championship in April 2021. Although it was not what we had hoped for, we titled a national champion for the first time and the teams praised the opportunity to compete at a national level.

Fast forward to our third year, COVID-19 restrictions were starting to ease across the country. We began the competitive season with about 30 teams ready to compete and earn points for the nationals. After many bid competitions and rounds of qualifiers for the teams, 8 teams were offered a spot at Origins. Those teams were as follows: Rice University Rasikas, Natya at UC Berkeley, University of Maryland Moksha, UCLA Taara, Georgia Tech Pulse, Rutgers University Natya, University of Texas Nritya Sangam and Natya at University of Washington. We hosted in Houston, Texas as was originally planned. We were fortunate to obtain our original venue, the beautiful Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center, right in the heart of Houston.

On April 15, 2022, the eight teams arrived, and Origins board began hosting the ~100 competitors as the championship weekend began. On April 16th, all teams took the stage and performed for the audience and the judges. The judging panel consisted of these five esteemed classical dance professionals that have studied, performed, and taught for decades: Rathna Kumar, Padmini Chari, Shiva Mathur, Lavanya Prabhu, and Manaswini Avvari. At the end of night, UMD Moksha took 3rd place, Natya at Berkeley took 2nd place and GT Pulse took 1st place. The first in-person championship had finally happened, and the champions were celebrated. We thank all our sponsors, friends, and family that have supported us thus far. Our legacy does not end here but only starts. Every year each team will be back on the hunt to earn the national champion title.