Since 2011 the organizers of I Just Wanna Dance (IJWD) have met in Los Angeles to ready themselves for their crowd pleasing, annual show performed by post-graduates who hope to entice, thrill and share their pure passion for the steps and sounds of Indian dance and music with the public.
The motivation behind this event is to help post-graduate, working professionals who share a passion for their culture and “love to perform, regardless of talent level” to put on a show for the community say IJWD founders Raman Gulati and Shailee Mehta. The duo also added that the show is not a judged competition.
The three-hour cultural show will feature a panorama of creatively choreographed dance styles such as Hindi film, bhangra, classical, and hip hop, as well as live music and comedy, along with Indian food from local eateries.
Gulati recalled memorable acts which represented the essence of the show such as San Francisco based HipNatyam which fused Hip Hop and Bharatanatyam. “Two groups individually performed Hip Hop and Bharatanatyam which culminated in an unforgettable battle between the two styles.”
In their second show, Bhangraholics, a bhangra group emerged from dancers from various rival colleges who had once competed against one another. For our show said Gulati, “they put aside their differences and put their energy together to create one of the most exciting bhangra acts I’ve ever seen.”
Yet another Indian group (Critical Conditionam) according to Gulati, earned a reputation for being the most accessible through their “bonding and the openness to allow everyone a chance to perform.” The troupe allowed people to join past their signup deadline, and swelled to over twenty dancers who rotated in for different dance acts.
IJWD will also donate a portion of their proceeds to local charities such as Pratham Los Angeles chapter and Artesia based Sahara. Pratham provides education to poverty-stricken regions of India, while Sahara is a South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency for victims of domestic violence.
The show is quite “unique” according to Gulati, an engineer by day who drew inspiration from the hundreds of colleges nationwide as well as his own alma mater University of California Berkeley where youth groups partake in similar shows to learn about one’s culture and make lifelong friendships.
Once students graduate, Gulati noted, “there is no way to experience the affiliation and fun without being part of some professional performing organization.”
Gulati’s vision to extend the collegiate like extra-curricular event was shared by Mehta an accountant by day, who spent much, of her youth participating in various dance groups inclusive of choreography work.
Such extracurricular involvement is a key tool in personal development, added Mehta who admits “many choreographers have had such ideas but just need a venue to express their creativity.”
The founders also acknowledged their growing pains with their non-profit. Mehta recalled her elation and bewilderment of the show’s popularity as she watched the ticket sales counter rise from zero to eight hundred in their formative years.
The unexpected throngs of audiences gathered mainly from social media marketing and word of mouth caused various delays in their initial show which forced the organizing committee to re-evaluate their event goals by incorporating timely starts of their growing acts to make the show more polished.
IJWD is about people coming together because they all have one thing in common—their passion for dance and performing.
Saturday February 15, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach. 6:30 p.m. $10 – $20. http://www.ijwdshow.com.