BY GABBY RAYMOND ’20
Jhumka was founded in 2006 as the first fusion dance group on campus, according to the College website. The dance group mixes hip-hop and Bollywood styles to create unique student-lead choreography each semester. They perform at events like VariAsians, Himalaya Night, Diwali celebrations, Pangy Day and UMass Asia Night. Last year, they even performed at Drag Ball, and hope to repeat the performance this year as well.
The dance group hosted their second annual “Jhumba” night on Sunday, Dec. 2. True to form, Jhumka brought Mount Holyoke students a fusion of high-energy zumba and original choreography to popular Bollywood and hip-hop songs. The workout soundtrack featured songs like “Mi Gente” by J Balvin, “Boom” by Major Lazer, “Let’s Nacho” by Badshah and “Party Done” by Angela Hunte.
This year featured music with Caribbean influences because many of Jhumka’s new dancers have backgrounds in Carribean-style dancing. “Each semester is completely different. We get new dancers twice a year, and since we do our own choreography, whatever [type of dance] people suggest we [incorporate],” said co-captain Rachelle Egipeiaco ’18. Each dancer on the team has the opportunity to choreograph routines for the team, and this year the group had a few new members who wanted to express their Caribbean influences.
The idea for the Jhumba event came from last year’s co-captain, Quinn Wallace ’17. The group wanted to create a fun end-of-year event to serve as a study break. “[Last year] there were at most sixty people [in attendance], Studio 3 was packed,” said co-captain Lillia Baird ’18.
This year, there was a mix-up in the Mount Holyoke Word-Out email, which stated the event was on Saturday rather than Sunday, so there was a smaller turn out than expected. Despite the low attendance rate this year, Sara Kumar ’20, who joined the dance group in Spring 2016, said that Jhumka would continue the new tradition of Jhumba next year.
Jhumka holds open auditions at the beginning of every fall and spring semester. “I don’t think you need to prepare for joining the group. I couldn’t dance before I came here,” said Kusha Chopra ’21. “Just bring you sneakers, your energy and a bottle of water!”
Another new member India Murphy ’19, said, “It’s not that you have to come in knowing how to dance. It’s more about [making] progress, and showing you’re committed to learning how to dance or becoming a better dancer if you already have experience.”
The Hindi word “Jhumka” translates to earring, specifically referring to the long dangling earrings worn by women in India to symbolize “femininity, maidenhood and grace,” according to Jhumka’s Facebook page. Astha Niraula ’18, a member of the team, added that the earrings often dance with you, symbolizing the different styles of all the women who make up Jhumka. “Bollywood itself has a lot of variations — classical Bollywood, regular Bollywood and very ‘hip-hoppy’ Bollywood. We incorporate them all with our different individual styles. Even if we do a hip-hop dance to a classical Bollywood song, it still looks really good because the moves complement each other really well,” said Niraula.
While Jhumka literally means “earring,” it also represents family for the dancers on the team. “I’ve met a lot of my good friends through Jhumka,” said Baird. Her co-captain Egipeiaco agreed.
“I’ve been on the team all four years,” she said, “and even though we have new members every semester, the dancers on the team feel like my family.”