Fourth year Wilfred Laurier business and communications student Amit Tandon stresses that in order for your dream to become a reality, you need to first visualize it. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he says “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”. He is a senior advisor of “East Meets West” dance group at Wilfred Laurier University. He passionately talks about the evolvement of his dance crew from when it was first established in 2003.
Having a smaller talent pool from which to pick dancers from in contrast to larger universities such as U of T or Waterloo, “East Meets West” had its fair deal of challenges. Often faced with no facility or funding through which to practice their dance routines, the students would often find themselves searching for empty spaces in the outdoors, using torch lights when it became too dark. Despite all of these challenges “East Meets West” recently won awards for the best dance crew, best classical dance, best artistic director at the annual South Asian Alliance Culture Show- one of the biggest of its kind in North America. Pulling dance talent from all over Ontario, this culture show draws a pool of students who often travel five hours just for a chance to dance alongside their peers.
From being last place when they first begun, to becoming first place just recently- Amit asserts that “we found a way to turn our failures into successes…we won because of hard work and passion.”
“East Meets West” was primarily conceived to create a fusion of western and eastern culture on campus. The group has received numerous awards on campus, such as one for being the most ‘active group’ and one for being the ‘most improved’. The group also takes part in many events around campus whether it is Holi, Diwali or attending bazaars.
When asked what business and communications has to do with dance, Amit replies that it is important to do something that you enjoy. “It’s not always the pay, but what you believe in”. He explains how as a child he dreamt of being a Bollywood star, but his parents steered him to a more ‘realistic’ path, partly due to the fact that he could not speak Hindi too well. However, his experiences on campus brought back his passion for performance, and helped him succeed in completing his degree.
When asked about the ways in which “East Meets West” is involved in political or social issues on campus, Amit urges to not underestimate the significance of dance. Not only do dancing competitions raise money for causes such as the Canadian Cancer Society, but they provide experiences to learn about the diversity of South Asian culture- ranging from learning about the different costumes, productions, lifestyles within India but also all around Asia.
The biggest issue of our generation Amit asserts, is the dilemma of identity crisis- to both know and represent who you are.
One of the greatest gifts of being part of such a cultural dance show is to see how the different genres of music come together under one roof. A lot of people like to break up the genres and find differences within the music. The significance of dancing, Amit asserts, is that we visualize all of this music as one.