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Koothu is king at 'Kings of Gaana 2012'

As Britain’s first university term drew to a close, students across the country geared up for the launch of the country's first ever inter-university gaana dance competition, “Kings of Gaana”.

Based on ‘gaana’ dancing, a style derived from traditional Tamil folk music, the much anticipated competition saw teams from universities across the city competing to be crowned champions.

The event hosted by King’s College London Tamil Society, saw a vibrant exhibition of Tamil culture from London’s student community, with committee members dressed in traditional Tamil clothing; the boys in vettis and saalvais, and the girls in saris.

The show, held in the heart of London to a packed out crowd, saw teams from St George’s University of London, King’s College London, Brunel University, Queen Mary University of London and University College London enter.

The competition kicked off with St George’s launching into a performance, fusing slow tempo rhythms with the fast-paced beats that have come to define gaana music.

King’s College London launched into an electric performance, with a novel retelling of the acclaimed “Lion King” musical drama. Complete with lavish costumes and breathtaking moves, the performance set the tone for a competition that was looking intensely close.

With the exception of a burst of “Gangnam Style” accompanied by an innovative gaana twist by Brunel University, all the songs used by the teams were Tamil hits, from the modern sensations of “Kalasala Kalasala”, to the 80’s classics of “Nama Singaari Saraku”.

Brunel University’s breathtaking performance, depicting gaana through the ages, left the crowd captivated incorporating timeless classics to contemporary Tamil hits.

Next up was one of the crowd favourites of the night, Queen Mary’s. The team’s village themed performance definitely captured the audience’s attention, with the crowd going wild for an authentic gaana rendition, complete with traditional village girls swinging vilakkumaaru.

Last, but definitely not least, was University College London, who stunningly retold the Rudyard Kipling favourite “Jungle Book”. Their captivating performance drew critical acclaim from the judges for their original take on accustomed gaana moves, completing the fierce competition.

Whilst the quality of each one of the performances was astounding, there could only ever be one winner. In a tight judge’s decision, the trophy was finally taken home by King’s College London.

The spectacular show was also studded with an array of exhibition acts on the night including musical performances, guest dance performances and comedy sketches.
The hosts of the show “The Comedy Fraternity” left the crowd in stitches throughout, especially with the screening of their first ever sketch “The Rise of Sakmanathan: Gaana Master's Tutorial”.

For all those in need of an introduction to gaana dancing, the video is definitely worth a watch!

Speeches in both Tamil and English by the KCL Tamil Society committee at the end of the night, reminded the crowd that every penny profit raised was going towards a charity to help Tamil children affected by the conflict in Mannar, Vanni, Mullaitivu and Killinochchi. The committee told the audience,

“We at KCL Tamil Soc are proud of our heritage and our homeland. The event you supported tonight, all of our events and the reason for our creation, are to showcase and empower that.”

All photos courtesy of One One 7 Resonare