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World of Dance exhibits culture for a good cause

April 9th will mark the eleventh annual World of Dances festival in Tillman Hall. Hosted by Clemson’s Association for India’s Development (AID) chapter, the group is part of a volunteer movement that promotes sustainable, equitable and just development for India as a nation. Founded in 1991, AID has 10 chapters in the U.S. and 36 in India, with over a hundred grassroots projects in the works. Clemson’s chapter is working to develop Pre-Primary Education in Murshidabad, India.
Hosted yearly, the World of Dances festival features different styles of dances ranging across the Indian sub-continent and performed by various dance professionals.
“Classical Indian and Bollywood styles are usually the most popular,” said Achyut Raghavendra, President of the Association for India’s Development Clemson chapter. Classical Indian dance typically depict a story about good and evil, traditionally performed in a dramatic manner with hand-gestures called mudra that help narrate the story. Bollywood dance combines classical Indian with Middle Eastern traditions and have evolved to have a unique and energetic style.  
“However, in recent years we have had some performers do some hip hop, swing, salsa, Arabic, classical ballet, African and many other styles of dancing. If you are willing to dance in front of a big group of people, we’ll basically accept most forms of dance.”
Visiting performers will mingle with Clemson students during the range of performances, where “you certainly aren’t required to be a trained professional either,” Raghavendra said. “Usually performers for World of Dance range from experienced dance professionals to enthusiastic undergraduate & graduate students, so everyone is welcome.”
The AID group concentrates primarily on supporting grassroots organizations in India that focus on education, natural resources, female empowerment and social justice. This year, one of the projects that the group is focusing on is the Mandra Lions Club, an education project in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, India. Clemson AID is responsible for $3,500 of the $13,000 project.
“We support the Mandra Lions Club every year,” said Raghavendra. “Our objective for this project is to provide pre-primary education to the tribal children and hence allow them to join mainstream education present in India.”
At this moment in time, the AID Clemson chapter supports 27 pre-primary education centers in India. Additionally, all of the proceeds from the World of Dance festival go to the various projects that the AID chapter supports in India.
“Usually we get around 200 to 250 attendees every year,” said Raghavendra, “which means that we raise about 3,000 USD every year, which is the bare minimum of support we can provide to teachers who volunteer to teach tribal kids.”
Both students and non-students can attend the event. Early bird tickets cost eight dollars for students and 15 for those not enrolled at Clemson University. The ticket covers the entry fee, as well as an Indian-style dinner before the performances begin. Anyone interested in performing or volunteering in the event can contact Achyut Raghavendra at [email protected] or Clemson’s Association for India’s Development chapter at aid@clem

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