Anjali Keyal said that when she is performing, all that matters is her, her body, the audience and the lights. That’s all there is.
Keyal is the co-captain of UNC Bhangra Elite, one of the many UNC dance groups preparing for the 2023-24 season. The groups perform in showcases and competitions throughout the year.
Many of the dance groups hold auditions for the school year within the first few weeks of class and spend weeks to months preparing choreography, often done by students, before performances even happen.
Performances can be for various events on and off campus, including competitions and final showcases.
Bella Dunn, vice president of Star Heels Dance Team, said that the process of choreographing is different for everyone. She typically works within the styles of modern, lyrical and contemporary as they allow her to evoke an emotional connection to the dance.
“I think sometimes it’s hard to express in words the way that certain events will make you feel,” Dunn said. “But I think, at least for me, I feel like dance kind of eases that burden a little bit. I don’t feel like I have to say exactly the right thing at the right time. I can get my emotions in a completely different avenue.”
Sasha Sagar is co-captain of UNC Ek Taal, a competitive dance team that performs the Indian classical dance style of Bharatanatyam. She said that choreographing can be a lengthy process — a dance can go through many renditions until it reaches the final product.
Ek Taal tries to create a story in their competition pieces, she said. The use of hand gestures, facial expressions, music and costumes allows them to further convey the theme to their audiences.
“It’s honestly like a dance form that’s not as prominent in the Indian community, as, say, Bollywood or Bhangra, or other dance forms like that,” Sagar said. “I feel like it’s really important for us as dancers to continue that art form in the UNC community and even further.”