Dancing their way to a cure

From left to right, Christine Liggett, Max Oliver, Ashley Mansour, and Jolie Rafealson, juniors, perform a bollywood dance to "Dola Re Dola."

From left to right, Christine Liggett, Max Oliver, Ashley Mansour, and Jolie Rafealson, juniors, perform a bollywood dance to “Dola Re Dola.”

Swirling and twirling in the spotlight, the performers at the eighth annual Dance for Hope charity event on Feb. 3 poured their hearts on the floor as they raised money for cancer research.

The Interact Club project, led by Amiya Prasad, sophomore, and Sonia Patel, senior, was designed to showcase and unite different cultures and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

In the past, the multicultural dance benefit presented traditional and modernized ethnic dances, and this year their main events included African tribal dances, Indian fusion dances, Bollywood dancing and more.

With such a big event comes a lot of work and preparation, and Prasad especially invested much effort into the occasion.

“I designed the programs and printed [them at the] publishing place, and I [put] all the audio from everyone into a playlist. Then I got some of the food, including all the desserts. . . I dealt with [people] who wanted to cancel at the last minute and managed to get them to come,” she said.

Prasad hoped that “people [would] know that there’s more cultures that you can explore and learn about, and it’s not just limited to one, and anyone can be exposed to any of these cultures, and you can do a lot to help people who have cancer.”

After preparing since November of last year, Patel, who helped choreograph and performed in the finale Bollywood dance, said before the show that she was both excited and nervous for the event to begin.

“I really hope everything goes off without a hinge, but I am really excited to see what people have brought to perform today,” she said.

To close out the show, Sonia Patel, senior, and Jubal Rancourt, junior, perform a dance to "D Se Dance," choreographed by Patel, Rachna Desphande, and Amaan Kazi, seniors.

To close out the show, Sonia Patel, senior, and Jubal Rancourt, junior, perform a dance to “D Se Dance,” choreographed by Patel, Rachna Desphande, and Amaan Kazi, seniors.

In the two dance-packed acts of the show, there were appearances from nearby dance studios Aspire, Bobbies and Thrive, as well as the Hindi film dance team USC Zeher, the Newbury Park Dance Team and members from the IB world dance class.

There were also women from the Latin/Bollywood dance fusion DanZifit, a solo from the Lark Detweiler, junior and member of the dance team, as well as from Azonto dance sisters from Interact club. While IB dancer Max Oliver, junior, worked this event last year, this time he was center stage and definitely wants to do it again next year.

“I think it went absolutely amazing. I was really nervous at first, but going on stage and being with my group, our chemistry just really combined and it was awesome,” Oliver said.

Host Tessa Azani, senior, also thought the benefit went well, calling the result “phenomenal,” and “a huge success.” In the show, she and her co-host Leo Vodantis, senior, announced that Dance for Hope raised over $1,500, more than ever before.

Each dance was unique and received warm applause from the audience, but the final performance of the night procured a wildly appreciative response, with screams, cheering and clapping the entire way through, some even giving them a standing ovation. Arianna Greenidge, one of the Azonto dancers, which is a Ghana dance style, said that the Bollywood finale was her favorite, as did Azani.

“I was just mind blown, because they put this together just for this show, [they do not] dance outside all together at a company, so I was in shock. . . [and] really impressed,” she said, going on to explain why she thought this event was so amazing. “It was cool having so many people I knew in the show. . . This is so different and so cool and it was just really cool seeing all of it.”

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