Crowning the Jazba Champion

U-affiliated nonprofit spreads South Asian empowerment through dance

Zach Bielinski - Jazba 2

Photographer: Zach Bielinski

Northrop was illuminated with bright colors, upbeat music, and excited smiles as dancers took the stage for the Jazba competition on Saturday, Feb. 27, performing enthusiastic routines to Bollywood music.

Jazba means “passion” in Urdu and Hindi. The host, Jazba Entertainment, is a University of Minnesota born nonprofit that spreads South Asian cultural awareness through dance and the arts, according to their mission statement.

Jazba means “passion” in Urdu and Hindi.

The spectacle featured top Bollywood fusion dance teams from across the nation, competing head-to-head for the crown of Jazba champion.

Not only did the event celebrate South Asian culture and dance, the proceeds from Jazba went to support Women In Need, a nonprofit organization in Nagpur, India. Women in Need rehabilitates the lives of impoverished South Asian women who have suffered from sexual assault, HIV/AIDS, and leprosy.
Jazba first began in early 2014 when student Anish Chandak approached some friends with the idea of bringing more Indian dance culture to the University of Minnesota. The vision was a Bollywood fusion dance competition.

“Jazba empowers Indians on campus to celebrate their culture and also raise awareness of the issues that exist within it,” Neerel Mehta, marketing director of Jazba, said. The donations that come from Minneapolis go directly to solving issues in Nagpur.

Jazba first began in early 2014 when student Anish Chandak approached some friends with the idea of bringing more Indian dance culture to the University of Minnesota.

The event is growing immensely, and the stakes were a lot higher this time around. This year, Jazba was a Bollywood America bid competition, meaning it’s one of seven competitions in the country that determine qualifiers for Bollywood America, a national competition for Bollywood fusion dance. The winner of Jazba automatically qualifies for this honor.

Zach Bielinski - Jazba

Photographer: Zach Bielinski

Mehta stressed how important each board member is for event’s success. “We have to get teams to apply, pick the teams, plan logistics, and educate the public about the great show,” Mehta said. “Without one of the pieces, I think we would not be able to run. We all work together to make the event run efficiently and have great results at the end.”

Mehta said he hopes more students that are disconnected from their Indian heritage will connect with it through Jazba. In the future, he would love to see a more diverse audience getting introduced to a part of Indian culture.