Northwestern entertainment company Tufaan holds dance competitions, supports charity

Rachel Davison, Assistant A&E Editor

Not only does Tufaan Entertainment put on two annual dance competitions featuring students from across the nation, but it also directly supports Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, a school for disadvantaged students in India.

A non-profit entertainment company at Northwestern, Tufaan produces two annual events, Dance World, which took place Jan. 16, and Tufaan, an annual collegiate Bollywood dance competition, which will be held in Cahn Auditorium on March 21.

The organization began in 2010 as a way for students to promote Southeast Asian arts and culture and to support education in India. Tufaan’s founders wanted to use the dance competition to raise funds for charity, said Bienen senior Natasha Ramanujam, a Tufaan co-chair.

Tufaan has raised more than $40,000 for Shanti Bhavan, which provides a free liberal arts education to disadvantaged students.

“Shanti Bhavan really aligns with our mission statement,” Ramanujam said. “We’ve been able to see how effective the school is. We have a really good relationship with them.”

The Dance World event started during Tufaan’s second year as a way for NU dance groups to compete.

“Every year it’s been getting bigger and bigger and we’ve enjoyed seeing it grow,” Ramanujam said.

Six campus groups competed in Dance World this year and students from Butler College Prep, a Chicago public charter school with a focus on arts education, performed as well. Northwestern Bhangra won the cash prize and NU’s A-NU-Bhav won the fan favorite award, which attendees voted for upon entering.

Before Winter Break, the 13 members of Tufaan’s executive board watched video submissions and selected the competitors for this year’s Bollywood competition. In March, the 10 teams from California, Michigan, Missouri, Georgia and other states will compete for first, second and third place awards. The first place team gets a bid to compete at Bollywood America. Out of these teams, seven competed at the national level in last year’s season.

“We have really brought in some of the best teams across the nation that perform in this circuit,” said Parth Dalal, Ramanujam’s fellow co-executive officer.

The weekend of the competition includes time for the groups to rehearse before they compete as well as assemble their backdrops and sets and interact with the other teams.

“The circuit that they compete on is a very close knit community,” Ramunajam said. “It’s a very busy time, but teams really enjoy it. We really enjoy it as well.”

Logistics Chair Aditya Mazmudar coordinates the competition to make the weekend go smoothly by booking hotel rooms and rehearsal spaces and reaching out to local businesses for food donations, in order to maximize the donation to Shanti Bhavan.

“I think that motivates all of us to work hard to bring in the most sponsors so we can bring in the most revenue to donate to this school,” Mazudar, a Weinberg senior, said.

Tufaan connects the dancers to Shanti Bhavan by showing photos and video messages of the students to the dancers.

“Tufaan is not just a dance competition,” Ramunajam said. “We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about trying to put Shanti Bhavan in the spotlight.”

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