When second place was announced, Penn Masti thought it was over. The 2015 national champions, UCLA Nashaa, had yet to be called — they seemed to be the shoo-in for first place. But as the host announced the winner, Penn students erupted into cheers and rushed toward the stage to celebrate with the winners of the Legacy on Broad tournament: Penn Masti.
By winning first place at the Legacy on Broad competition, Penn Masti, a South Asian fusion dance group, received an automatic bid to the national competition, Bollywood America.
“You are just so hype when you go on that stage,” College freshman and Penn Masti member Sai Sripad Kodukula said. “It is a marvelous feeling. It is something you don’t get that often.”
Masti had the home team advantage since the competition was hosted in Philadelphia on Jan. 30, which made it easy for the Penn community to attend the event and support the team.
“We were so blessed to have an audience full of all of our friends — even all the Drexel and Temple kids were cheering for us,” Wharton freshman and Penn Masti member Nishant Agrawal said. “The moment they announced that we won, all of our friends stormed the stage and jumped over the barrier; it was just a massive group of Penn students going completely nuts.”
For those who could not be there in person, however, there was a live stream of the competition online.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the show, but we watched the live feed in my room and had our own little viewing party,” Wharton freshman and South Asia Society Political Chair Sanika Puranik said. “It was crazy watching people doing professional stuff on stage and then seeing them on Locust the next morning. It is cool being surrounded by such talented people.”
Four years ago, Masti had never competed in a dance competition. Last year, the team placed second but was able to go to Bollywood America based on a management pick, which meant that the board members of the competition picked Masti to compete based on a video, an application and the points they had won by placing at qualifying tournaments.
“We are just discovering our potential and it is really exciting to see what the future holds for us,” Kodukula said.
The team practices three to four times a week for two to three-hour sessions, but they practiced from 8 p.m. to midnight every day for a week before the competition.
“The team has all worked incredibly hard for months and months leading up to a competition and poured their heart and soul into an 8 minute routine,” Engineering and Wharton junior and Penn Masti competition chair Gagan Gupta said.
Bollywood America will take place on April 9 in Cleveland.
“I am so proud of everyone on the team who I know worked super hard and it feels good to be able to celebrate with everyone and be able to go to nationals regardless of how well we do,” Gupta said.
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