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Taking a Bollywood Study Break

Class performs Indian dance flash mob in library for final project

It was a typical evening at Northwestern University Library during Reading Week. Students cramming for finals gathered in Core -- the library’s core collection and a favorite study spot -- to quietly sit at tables and carrels to review everything they learned over the last 10 weeks.

But all that changed when a Bollywood dance flash mob broke out. Two students began talking loudly to each other, then a popular Indian song called “Party On My Mind” began blaring and the Core’s main study area became an instant stage for a choreographed dance performance.

Within a few minutes, all 15 students taking the Cultural Forms dance class joined the flash mob, which served as a final project for the class and an ideal study break for onlookers in the library.

“In Bollywood films, people just break out into dance in the middle of the film, so there’s something quite natural about using Bollywood within flash mobs,” said Kareem Khubchandani, a performance studies Ph.D. candidate who taught the course. “It was intentional that this was in the syllabus as a part of the class.”

The class contained students with varying levels of dance experience from a variety of academic disciplines, including communication studies, performance studies and economics. The students told Khubchandani that the library during Reading Week would be an ideal location for a flash mob. The library granted permission for the performance and students were able to showcase the choreography they had been working on throughout the quarter in an unexpected setting.

“It was really quiet in there before they started, but people sort of swarmed around and kept coming to watch from their study carrels,” Khubchandani said. “Everyone was pulling out their phones and filming it. They got a great reaction.”

To see more of the students’ work, visit the class YouTube channel.

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