Gina writes:

Wednesday was World AIDS Day. SOVA had filled the day with activities -- a mini-marathon (actually a 5K), a soccer tournament, and a dance competition. I was working at SPREAD all day, but left early to watch the dance competition and catch up with my SOVA friends after 3 weeks at my new placement.

The competition was supposed to start at 4 p.m. Anticipating a late start to the event, I arrived at about 4:30. I chatted with friends, dodged raindrops from a surprise evening shower, and waited through a power outage until the dancing 7!

The dance groups were from villages around Koraput district, some 2 or 3 hours away. Most of the groups did dhemsa dance, which is the tribal dance of Orissa. A group of girls (sometimes with guys, usually not) locks arms and dances in a line/circle, copying the steps of the person in front. More about it here. Simple dhemsa dances are done at most picnics, parties, weddings, and social occasions. Corey and I have been pulled into dhemsa dances on more than one occasion; it's easy to learn and a lot of fun!

There was a group of young men that danced as well, but not in dhemsa style. They danced in circle and copied the steps of the guy at the front, but they did so while on stilts! At one point, they were hopping around in a circle, each on only one of their stilts.

Some of the groups danced to recorded Indian songs and some brought their village elders to play drums. I like the idea of a whole village spending time together to dance, the young women dancing, the old men playing instruments.

In addition to some nice jewelry sets, the winning teams got to take home the sweetest trophy ever! Here's Corey modeling 1st prize! (Isn't his new kurta nice?)

We had dinner at SOVA shortly after 10 p.m. before heading home. So nice to say hi to my friends there and watch a genuine Indian cultural performance.