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Legacy on Broad celebrates South Asian culture and builds community through dance. Part of a national group of dance competitions, it features Bollywood and Western styles performed by some of the best collegiate dance teams from across the country. This year, 10 teams will come to Philadelphia to compete for the chance to move on to nationals. Not yet familiar with Bollywood dance? You’re missing out.
Dancing with legacy
Indian movies shaped this high-energy combination of Indian classical and folk styles with hip-hop, jazz, and other forms of Western dance. Videos from previous years’ competitions and a conversation with Santoshi Kandula and Shrey Pradhan, directors of Legacy on Broad 2023, convinced me that this event should not be missed.
This year, Legacy on Broad features student dance teams from Georgia Tech, University of Michigan, Nova Southeastern University in Florida, Saint Louis University, North Carolina State, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Texas, Dallas, as well as Wayne State University, and affiliate institutions. Teams perform sets of about 10 minutes, which are evaluated by professional judges. The top three teams will be announced at the end of the show. These teams then enter the running for Legends, the national Bollywood dance championship. Legends was founded in 2016 by former dancers and competition organizers from the Desi Dance Network, which aims to create supportive communities, empower South Asian artists, promote South Asian performing arts in the United States, and increase diversity in entertainment.
For many performers in this year’s competition, “it’s their first time coming to Philly, and that’s really special to us,” said Pradhan. He and Kandula both have experience with Legacy on Broad. During the last competition in 2021, Pradhan served as tech chair and Kandula served as liaison. As Kandula explained, “We essentially worked on Legacy throughout Covid and were on board for a year and a half.” She and Pradhan stepped into their roles as directors in August 2022. Since then, they have been working with the executive board to prepare this year’s competition.
History for the future
Kandula and Pradhan bring personal history with dance to their leadership roles. Pradhan, a Drexel alum, performed throughout college. He also competed at Legends in 2022 with Broad Street Baadshahz. Kandula, a Penn alum, performed the folk dance raas during college. Through her involvement with Penn Raas and the Penn South Asian Society, she got to know many of Penn’s dance teams, and she brought this experience to her role last year. Seeing the teams “really enjoying themselves ... encouraged me to apply to be part of Legacy again,” Kandula said.
Yet historically, most South Asian dance competitions have taken place in the midwest. Legacy on Broad reflects the efforts of students and alumni from institutions in greater Philadelphia to bring dance competitions to the east coast. Pradhan notes that Legacy board members include undergraduate students, graduate students, and alums from area institutions. The organization and competition aim “to represent Bollywood culture—and Indian and South Asian culture—in a positive light,” Pradhan said. Moreover, dance is a stress-relieving outlet that builds community. Legacy on Broad has established itself as “one of the most hospitable” competitions in the network, Pradhan noted. This has special meaning in the City of Brotherly Love, during a time characterized by division locally and nationally. Legacy extends a warm welcome to visitors whose artistry highlights cultural diversity and brings people together.
Equally important, Legacy on Broad gives back to the local community. Each year, the organization pledges a portion of the competition proceeds to a charity. This year’s charity partner is Sharing Excess, a Philadelphia nonprofit that combats food insecurity and food waste by partnering with grocery stores, restaurants, wholesalers, and farmers to deliver their surplus to food banks and community groups.
In addition to 10 amazing teams performing bhangra, classical, contemporary, hip-hop, and many other dance styles, the Saturday, March 11, performance will feature a Bollywood fusion singer. There also will be two exhibition acts, including young students from a dance school. Kandula noted that the fun will continue after the competition with an afterparty celebrating the teams at Roar Nightclub for those 18 and older. Tickets for the afterparty are available on the Legacy on Broad website.
What, When, Where
Legacy on Broad. Presented by Penn Live Arts. $20. Saturday, March 11, 2023, at the Zellerbach Theatre, Penn Live Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. (215) 898-3900 or pennlivearts.org.
Penn Live Arts offers wheelchair-accessible seating, free admission for personal care attendants, large-print programs, and assistive listening devices. Visit the venue’s accessibility page for more info.
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