On a breezy Saturday evening, the sounds of South Asia echoed through the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center for the “I Just Wanna Dance” culture show on January 14, 2012. Backstage, the energy was high, with costumes littering the green room, performers making sure they hit that crucial note, and rehearsing that oh-so-complicated-stunt one more time.
The show is headed in the direction of impressive growth, having sold 500 pre-sale tickets last year, and doubled in pre-sale tickets this year. Teams from North-Cal and all over Southern California take part in the “I Just Wanna Dance” tradition, showcasing how involvement is pan Californian and ensuring the potential for growth nationally.
These people are not being paid, it’s not a competition, but come together on this night for the pure joy of dance and to showcase Desi culture.
Priya Aggarwal who performs in the act called Chak De Jazz explains the show has “that amicable friendliness, and brings out people who enjoy dancing, but wouldn’t consider themselves professionals, even if they have the talent to do so.”
Jack ‘JT’ Tyler said the show is “nice because it gives people an option after they have graduated from undergrad. How many times do you hear people say: I guess this is the last time I’ll dance ever; But this is a way for people to keep going.”
Preparation was rigorous, with many teams using how-to videos and uploading them to social networking websites and meeting multiple times per week.
Viji Surampudi, a choreographer for one of the acts explains what it was like teaching this sort of group, “It’s always fun to teach South Indian Film, because it’s definitely different, if not necessarily pretty. Everyone’s moves are unique and it’s fun to watch them put it together and the people genuinely want to be here.”
With fifteen acts ranging from song, dance, and music, “I Just Wanna Dance” boasts a rainbow of variety. During the show, the two colorful hosts bookended the acts by adding skits and cultural jokes celebrating the South Asian Diaspora. Samples in the acts ranged from Michael Jackson, Jay-z and Kanye, Racks on Racks on Racks and old-school Bollywood favorites creating an atmosphere that is relatable for all age groups.
Although the show began almost an hour after schedule, something that Desis are notorious for and ran about three hours long, an evening filled with cultural creativity is time well spent in our books. And, if that was not enough, a portion of proceeds go to the charity: Pratham, the largest educational organization promoting literacy in India with over 70,000 volunteers.
Make sure to catch the show next year, or get involved yourself at www.ijwdshow.com.
Have a look at our exclusive gallery below: