Brown Badmaash Dance Company
Brown Badmaash Dance Company, often referred to as Brown Badmaash, is a nationally competitive South Asian fusion dance team based at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. As a South Asian fusion team, Brown Badmaash incorporates music from both South Asian and Western dance traditions. Brown Badmaash is a relatively new dance team but already has participated in dozens of fusion dance competitions and shows around the Northeast.
Brown Badmaash's official slogan is "Brown is the new Gold," a double entendre on the fact that the team's members attend Brown University. However, another slogan used commonly by Brown Badmaash members is the one-word question Bad-WHAT?, to which the audience replies with a resounding Bad-MAASH!
Brown Badmaash was founded in 2005 by students at Brown University after the University's annual South Asian cultural show in March. After considering several names, including "Brown Chutney" and "Shabaash," the team chose to call itself "Badmaash," the Hindi word for mischievous or rascal. Despite being a rather unorthodox name for a dance team, "Badmaash" was chosen because it emphasized the team's focus on breaking tradition by fusing dance styles from around the world.
Throughout the 2005–2006 school year, Brown Badmaash expanded its presence on its home campus in Providence with shows and performances. The year was also marked by appearances at the Raunak cultural show at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as a top five finish at the Tamasha fusion dance competition in New York City.
In September 2006, Brown Badmaash expanded to 32 members by inducting ten new students into its ranks. Throughout the 2006–2007 school year, Brown Badmaash continued to perform at various shows at Brown University and around New England. Additionally, on May 4, 2007, Brown Badmaash hosted its first-ever dance show, titled Bring 'Em Out: Volume 1. The show, which attracted a sold-out audience to Salomon Hall on the Main Green, was a huge success and promises to become a yearly tradition for Brown Badmaash.
Shows & Competitions
In its three years of existence, Brown Badmaash has performed at many events on Brown University's campus. Many of these events have a distinctive cultural theme, for example the annual shows sponsored by Brown's South Asian Students Association as well as South Asian-related lectures hosted by the University. In 2007, Brown Badmaash partnered with Mezcla (Brown's Latino performing arts troupe) to produce "Dhol Mundial," a fusion dance that interwove bhangra and bharatanatyam with salsa and Latino forms of dance. Brown Badmaash also performs at many non-culturally-aligned shows, for example the annual Fall Dance Concerts held at Brown University every November; at these events, the goal of Brown Badmaash is to entertain the audience while at the same time showcasing the diversity and power of dance. Brown Badmaash also makes appearances at many official Brown University events, including Brown's annual Commencement ceremonies and "ADOCH" welcome weeks for incoming Brown freshmen.
Outside of Brown University, Brown Badmaash participates in many cultural shows and dance competitions. These include the Raunak cultural show hosted by Harvard University and the Tamasha dance competition in New York City. Many Brown Badmaash members also perform individually or in smaller groups in their hometowns around the country. In the past, Brown Badmaash members have also volunteered as dance teachers at schools and camps in Providence and New York.
Anatomy of a Dance
Brown Badmaash dances, whether used for competitions or for shows, emphasize the theme of fusion. Besides comprising a major part of the grading rubric at dance competitions, the element of fusion allows Brown Badmaash to appeal to a broader audience while simultaneously allowing the team to explore new styles of dance. Typical Brown Badmaash soundtracks incorporate as many as eight or nine different dance styles.
In order to instill the element of fusion, the team often remixes two contrasting dance traditions. In 2006, one Badmaash piece added a traditional raas beat to the Bollywood song "Ladki Badi Anjani Hai" (Film: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai), and in 2007, another Badmaash piece added the dhol beat from the Bollywood song "Pretty Woman" (Film: Kal Ho Naa Ho) to Daddy Yankee's pop hit "Rompe."
As a fusion dance company, Brown Badmaash uses songs and dance styles from any part of the world. However, the most common styles used by Brown Badmaash in its dances can be categorized into two broad categories: "South Asian" and "Western." The following table lists representative examples from each category:
|South Asian dance styles||"Western" dance styles|
Many of Brown Badmaash's pieces, particularly those used for competitions, also incorporate a theme or plot that is conveyed through song and dance. The thematic element has long been an important part of South Asian fusion dance ‒ other teams in the past have used themes like "The Four Seasons" or the "Earth, Air, Fire, & Water," choosing songs, props, and dance moves to match their respective themes. Alternatively, fusion teams can attempt to retell a story through their choice of songs and dance moves ‒ in 2007, for example, one of Brown Badmaash's pieces used various Bollywood songs to loosely tell the story of a boy and girl falling in love.
In the 2005–2006 year, Brown Badmaash's chosen theme was "Hamara Itihaas," the Hindi phrase for Our History. The soundtrack used for this competition was divided into seven parts, each part corresponding to a period in India's past, present, or future. A large wooden modified clock was used as a prop to illustrate this theme; the sound of a bell and the movement of the large hand on the clock marked the transition from one historical period to another within the dance. The seven historical periods represented in the dance are summarized in the following table:
|Period in India's History||Corresponding Dance Styles & Songs|
|1. Ancient History||Bharatanatyam|
|2. Colonial Rule||Ballroom Waltz|
|3. Independence Movement||"Chale Chalo" (Film: Lagaan)|
|4. Old-School Bollywood||"Uden Jab Jab Zulfen Teri (Film: Naya Daur)
"Le Jayenge, Le Jayenge" (Film: Chor Machaye Shor)
|5. New-School Bollywood||"Chham Se" (Film: Dus)
"Mere Dil Vich" (Film: Hum Tum)
|6. Today: Fusion||"Nahin Ter Jeha Hor Disda" (Artist: Rishi Rich)|
|7. Tomorrow: Unity||"Aazaadi" (Film: Bose - The Forgotten Hero)|
- "Brown Badmaash Dance Company". Retrieved 2007-08-14.
- Meyers, Lindsey (2007-03-12), "SASA show spices up tradition.", Brown Daily Herald.
- Wootton, Anne (2005-11-04), "Nomani, students describe dual lives led by South Asians in U.S.", Brown Daily Herald.
- Barnes, Taylor (2007-04-23), "Mezcla shows its flavor in "Our Rhythm, Nuestra Sabor"", Brown Daily Herald.
- Wickham, Allissa (2006-12-01), "Dance concert showcases diversity of movement at Brown", Brown Daily Herald.