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Lokvani Talks To MIT-Chamak

Ranjani Saigal

(This article is sponsored by New England Shirdi Sai Temple)

Chamak, MIT's premiere South Asian Fusion dance team, was initiated by Payal Kadakia in the Fall of 2002, and developed by its inaugural executive board consisting of Payal Kadakia, Parul Deora, and Ashvini Thammaiah. MIT Chamak aims to introduce a new dance genre expressing energy, culture, and grace through a fusion of Eastern and Western dance and musical styles. Since the Fall of 2002, this team has performed in Boston, Cambridge, Cleveland, New Jersey, and New York. The dancers and choreographers creatively use their dance skills to produce innovative and distinctive masterpieces that continue to astound their audiences.

Tanya Talkar
President 2013-2014/ Captain 2014-2015
Home State: Oregon
Major: Computer Science
Why I love dancing: A workout and a way to express myself, just forget about all of the stress during the day and focus on smiling and being happy. Plus I love the girls that are on the team.

Krithika Swaminathan
Home State: Michigan
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Why I love dancing: "It's a powerful, yet graceful, way to express oneself."

Avira Som
Year: 2017
Home State: Texas
Major: Chemical-Biological Engineering
Why I love dancing: It helps me escape from all of the stress of psets and exams. It's a time when I can just lose myself in the music and not worry about anything.

Can you describe Chamak? What differentiates Chamak from other dance groups? 

Chamak is MIT’s premier all-female South Asian fusion dance team. Chamak places a heavy emphasis on technique and diversity in dance style which differentiates us from other dance groups.

What kind of training do the dancers who come to Chamak have? 

Members come to Chamak with all kinds of training such as Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Ballet, and Hip-Hop, and many dancers join Chamak with more than 10 years of dance experience.

Given that you are a fusion team, does the production undergo stylistic change each year based on the talent of the dancers?

Although our dancers come from a variety of backgrounds, our choreography style is heavily influenced by the Chamak performances of the past. Even though we add new styles every year, we try our best to maintain Chamak’s heritage and high standard of quality.

Can you give example of where you have performed previously?

We have performed at a variety of venues both on campus and off campus. These include MIT Sangam’s Diwali, Mocha Move’s Ring the Alarm, Harvard’s South Asian Dance Company’s Raunak, Columbia Taal’s Naach Nation, and MIT South Asian American Students’ Culture Show.

What motivates young women at MIT to give so much time to the arts despite a grueling work schedule?

Chamak provides a very special balance in our dancers' MIT lives. It is a way to release the physical energy that builds up after long hours of studying and concentration. More importantly, however, is the bond between our dancers. Practices give us a chance to spend 2-3 hours with friends that we share a connection with. Rather than giving up our time to the arts, we choose to spend our time doing something that we care about, value and love - dance.

How can the community support you?

Chamak's purpose as a dance team is to spread appreciation for dance as a medium of expression. Increased awareness of Chamak in the general community and more opportunities to perform at various venues would allow us to reach out to a larger audience and move even further towards our goal.

How can people book you for shows?

Please contact us at chamakboard@mit.edu if you have any questions or if you would like to have us perform at your event. We look forward to hearing from you!

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