'A family instead of just a dance team': Ek Taal prepares for next year

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Ek Taal, a Bharthanatyum dance group, performs at Journey into Asia last spring.

“Ek Taal had been a team for a while now at UNC and I think when I was a senior in high school the team had suspended, so when I was a freshman here there was no classical team,” she said. “My sophomore year I worked with the previous captains of the team to try to bring back the organization and it was successful.”

Bharatanatyam, the type of dance Ek Taal performs, is an Indian classical dance originated in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu in the south of India thousands of years ago. It usually contains hand gestures, eye movements and neck movements, through which the dance tells a story.

“I think it’s a great team, they do a good job of including everyone as a team member, they definitely take all the team members ideas,” Jonathan Martinez-Ruiz, a junior math major said.

Oza said she wants the team to have a good atmosphere.

“We’re trying to be more of a community, a family instead of just a dance team,” she said.

She said Ek Taal, which performs at events on and off campus, has danced with the Asian Student Association.

“We performed at a local event in Cary, Cary Diwali, and also performed in Journey into Asia by the Asian Student Association here on campus,” Oza said.

In 2016, Ek Taal also performed at Navarasa, a classical dance competition in North Carolina, as a non-competing exhibition team.

Since there are no more performances lined up for the rest of the semester, these are mainly preparation for the next year.

Gayathri Das, a first year, has been dancing Bharatnatyam since she was six.

“It’s been a pretty large part of my life, since I moved around a lot so it was one of the things that gave me a lot of stability,” she said.

Das said she especially values being part of the team since she feels they share a special cultural bond and therefore a unique sense of humor that helps them create their own little community.

She said knowing Bharatanatyam is not required for joining the club, but it helps to have experience in Indian classical dance. One current member is trained in dancing Kathak, a northern Indian dance form.

Even though there are currently no male dancers on the team, Bharatanatyam is not only danced by women.

“A really awesome aspect of Bharatanatyam, especially the acting part of the dance, is that a girl can portray a guy if need be.” Oza said.

She said she hopes there will be more opportunities to compete and Ek Taal will be embedded more into the classical Indian culture in the United States.

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