Darshan Bhalodia wanted to bring his favorite hobby to Temple.
It was November 2014, and the sophomore biology major had just spent a season dancing for a Drexel dance team when he realized he had a true passion for the two dances. He wanted to make his dreams a reality at his own school, so he created Temple Craasfire, Temple’s first Garba and Raas dance team.
Raas dance is a traditional partner dance, which originates from Gujarat, a state in India. It is typically performed with sticks called “dandiya.”
Growing up, Bhalodia was always around Raas dance. While it is practiced throughout the year, it is particularly popular during Navratri, a nine-night Hindu festival. Celebrating Navratri was a family tradition for Bhalodia, and it eventually became his favorite holiday.
“I just fell in love,” he said.
The team started last spring, and although it was lots of fun, Bhalodia said the team members had to put a lot of dedication and hard work into their dance.
“I’m not going to lie and say it was a walk in the park,” Bhalodia said.
Creating the dance group was “probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life,” he added.
The group practices three to four times a week, depending on its performance schedule. Nirel Solanki, a junior finance major and dancer on the team, said that the practices are “very time-consuming.”
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “But it pays off for the feeling onstage.”
Although the group existed last semester and practiced often, it didn’t consider last year an official season. The group held “light practices and some choreography,” Solanki said, but not enough to constitute an entire season’s worth of work.
On Feb. 25, Temple Craasfire performed at the Student Center along with other Temple and Drexel dance and a cappella teams. It was the culmination of the group’s first official season together.
“[Their performance] shows that they’ve been working on this for two months,” said an audience member and freshman biology major Harshitha Kakani.
“It’s crazy to think that last year we literally had nothing and now we have a whole routine down,” Solanki said.
One season in, the team has a lot of work ahead, Bhalodia said. Because Craasfire is a small start-up team, it was not accepted into any competitions this year—but the members are hopeful for next year’s competition season.
With Bhalodia’s experience on Drexel’s competitive team, he believes the structure of the team this year has prepared everyone for the heavy demands of a competitive season. Competitive teams usually practice five times a week. Craasfire practices three times a week.
“The purpose of this year was to simulate [a competitive schedule] for them,” Bhalodia said.
He said he hopes “everyone is seeing the picture now” and will be ready for a more competitive season next year.
When the team performs on stage, “everything kind of makes sense, kind of clicks,” Bhalodia said. “It’s honestly been one of the greatest experiences so far in college.”
Michelle Ferguson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.