The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 16th


Aaj Ka Dhamaka showcases South Asian dance with Anoop Desai

Noop Dogg’s back.

To celebrate its 25th Anniversary this year, UNC’s South Asian Awareness Organization Sangam will host the annual intercollegiate dance competition Aaj Ka Dhamaka (AKD) on Saturday.

This year, they will be featuring a performance by American Idol finalist and UNC alumnus, Anoop Desai.

Nine teams from all over the country are coming to Chapel Hill this weekend to compete in the competition, including two from Duke.

Although UNC has two exhibition teams that will perform in the show, they are not eligible for winning the $3,500 prize, said Priyanka Vakil, co-chair of Aaj Ka Dhamaka.

“We have some of the best dance teams here and we like to showcase them,” Vilas Sankar, also a co-chair, said. “But to eliminate bias from the competition, we don’t let UNC’s exhibition teams compete.”

Aaj Ka Dhamaka is the primary fundraiser for Sangam, UNC’s South Asian Awareness Organization, dedicated to supporting the South Asian Community in the form of the student-supported Mahatma Ghandi Fellowship. Each year, this scholarship provides $3,000 each to two students to raise awareness of South Asia’s societal concerns and attempt to find a solution to these concerns.

The competition’s purpose is to raise the $6,000 needed each year so Sangam can continue the scholarship.

“AKD usually raises the $6,000 needed for the two fellows. Once in 2008, it raised $16,000,” said Vakil.

Typically spending $29,000 of their $30,000 budget, AKD is usually able to get big names in South Asia to come perform. In the past they have brought in names like South Asian DJ team, RDB (Rhythm Dhol Bass) and British Indian singer, Juggy D. This year, however, they’re getting someone even bigger — Anoop.

Desai finished sixth place during the eighth season of “American Idol”, which aired in 2009. Desai graduated from UNC in 2008 with degrees in Political Science and American Studies. He now lives in Atlanta, Ga.

“It’s awesome that he’s coming because it will be really cool to see a hometown legend come back,” said Rani Patel, a liaison between Aaj Ka Dhamakaand the competition teams.

“Since more people know about him, hopefully he will attract a bigger and more diverse crowd to AKD this year.”

Shawn Kuruganti, co-founder of The Tarpeggios, said Desai’s performance highly factored in his decision to attend Aaj Ka Dhamaka this year.

“He’s one of the only really well known Indian singers at Chapel Hill, so as a singer and someone of South Asian heritage myself, Anoop’s success is inspiring,” he said.

Attend the show Saturday at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall. Tickets are $13 for students and $16 for the general public.

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