Arts and EntertainmentGetting the lowdown on Top Naach

The dance group mixes community, culture and learning in an effort to create a family
Savannah WahlgrenSeptember 26, 2019372 min
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photo by Matthew Claybrook

Not many people can tell what Trinity’s dance team Top Naach does just based on the name.

Originally starting around 2013 as a group of friends who shared a love for Bollywood, Top Naach — the name a play on words, with “Naach” translating to “dance” in Hindi — has expanded into a student dance team with 26 members.

“Bollywood dance is a very distinct style that originates in India, and it’s super energetic … It’s a lot of the dances you would see in Bollywood movies,” said senior Natasha Muppala, a captain of the team.

The group performs mainly Bollywood-style dances, but also tries to incorporate as many South Asian styles as possible.

“We don’t only stick to the strict interpretation of Bollywood because there [are] so many other languages and types of music in South Asia,” Muppala said. “I just want to incorporate as many different subcultures … in the team as possible.”

Top Naach dances to a wide variety of music and incorporates dance moves from other styles as well.

“There’s a lot of influence from Western dances, like hip-hop,” said sophomore Meghan Muppala, who is on the team.

A lot of work goes into each performance. Top Naach has one two-hour rehearsal every week, during which they learn and refine the dance they’re working on.

“We continue practicing until the week of the show. Even if we’re learning new stuff, we’ll rehearse old dances just to get it perfect,” Meghan Muppala said.

The next performance the dance team is preparing for is the TULA event Vivas Las Americas on Oct. 18. They’ve been working on a dance for this performance since the last week of August and will continue to prepare as the school year continues to ramp up. The dance is also a fusion piece, meaning that they will be dancing in the Bollywood style to Spanish music.

Top Naach this arrangment, as well as dance in general, as a way to unite people from all types of cultural backgrounds.

This union of diverse people is one of the things that attracted Meghan Muppala to Top Naach.

“I really wanted to be part of a dance team… and I got to meet a lot of people who share my same interests in the culture,” Meghan Muppala said.

Senior Akila Gopalkrishnan, a member of the team, agreed.

“It’s the only organization on campus that would help me keep in touch [with my culture] … because I’ve been doing Indian dance since I was a little girl,” Gopalkrishnan said.

Another thing that attracted these members to Top Naach was the close-knit community it has created.

“I try to make it as much of a dance family as possible,” Natasha Muppala said.

Previous experience is not a requirement to join the team.

“Maybe a fourth of us have any Bollywood dance experience or any South Asian dance experience,” Natasha Muppala said. “There [are] so many people on the team who aren’t South Asian or Indian and I feel like they really enjoy … learning about another culture through dance.”

The members of Top Naach are continuing to train for their upcoming performance on Oct. 18.

Savannah Wahlgren

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