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Bollywood premiere: President Daniels performs with Masti student dance group

Routine was part of spring dance showcase featuring Masti, the Eclectics

Video: Len Turner and Malcolm Douglas

It wasn't quite "Dancing With the Stars," but Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels recently got a taste of what a dance routine crash course is all about.

Call it "Dancing with the Students."

Daniels was a special guest performer Saturday night at the spring showcase for two JHU student dance groups—Masti, a co-ed Bollywood fusion dance team ("Masti" is the Hindi word for fun) and the Eclectics, whose style is ... well ... eclectic. The event was titled "Dance with ME and Ronnie D."

Daniels had seen a rehearsal of Masti's Diwali performance in the fall and approached a member of the group about learning a Bollywood dance.

"He thought it would be something new and fun to try," said Masti co-captain Ranita Ghosh, one of the group's 16 members. "We thought it would be exciting if he did a dance with us for our annual showcase. We started working on his piece in March and it came together wonderfully. I was so impressed with the dedication, time, and practice that he put in. President Daniels seemed to enjoy the dance, and the entire team really built off his energy and hard work in the performance."

The high-energy number opened with Daniels silhouetted against a red backdrop, lasted about a minute and a half, and finished to hearty cheers from the crowd of more than 500 at Shriver Hall.

Masti performed eight dance numbers (including the routine with Daniels) at the event, with styles ranging from Indian Bollywood, bhangra, and garba to American hip-hop and partner dancing. The Eclectics performed seven times, with styles that included hip-hop, contemporary, and lyrical. Then the groups teamed up for a finale.

"When I first told my wife I was doing this, and that it might be filmed, she said, 'I hope they can Photoshop rhythm!'" Daniels said. "I was just lucky to have such patient teachers and to join such exceptionally talented performers. It was truly a privilege and joy to dance with them."

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