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Bollywood Flair Evident at Annual UCR Chancellor's Dinner

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One alumni award winner, Nakul Dev Mahajan, dances and choreographs for "So You Think You Can Dance"

More than 300 UC Riverside friends, alumni, students and community members came together to support of our best and brightest scholars, artists, leaders and volunteers at the Chancellor's Dinner Saturday, Oct. 29. And they did it with a Bollywood flair.

UCR named a 2005 graduate, Nakul Dev Mahajan, as Outstanding Young Alumnus.

His work caught the eye of producers from the hit dance reality show "So You Think You Can Dance," which introduced Bollywood dance to a national audience. He later choreographed for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert and "Slumdog Millionaire" composer A.R. Rahman's Jai Ho World Tour. Mahajan has even taught some of Hollywood's best, including Natalie Portman, David Schwimmer, Chris Kattan, Steve Carell and Kal Penn.The award-winning choreographer and dancer grew up in the Los Angeles area, he hid his love of dance from everyone, including his family, because a career in dance seemed out of his reach. Of Indian heritage, Mahajan was especially drawn to the choreographed dances found in many Indian Bollywood movies and decided to get his degree in sociology at UCR while still pursuing dance.

"The sociology department taught me how to look outside the box, and the dance department accepted me with open arms, knowing that I didn't have any Western dance training such as ballet, jazz and modern styles," says Mahajan. "It helped me see people from a different perspective and more importantly, to see me and my self-worth. I was exposed to brilliant instructors and amazing dancers who inspired me to be the best in the style that I was accustomed to - Bollywood."

The event featured dinner, presentation of the 2011 Alumni Awards of Distinction and the UCR Medallion, and videos of each award winner.

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