Miss America

Miss America 2018 runner-up Jennifer Davis performed a Bollywood dance number during the talent round of the pageant because she “loves Bollywood.” The dance was choreographed by Indian American Nakul Dev Mahajan. (Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

When former Miss America Nina Davuluri performed a Bollywood fusion dance during the talent portion of the pageant in 2013, it didn’t ruffle any feathers. But when Miss Missouri Jennifer Davis performed a similar Bollywood dance routine Sept. 10 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the 2018 Miss America pageant, she startled many, including Davuluri, who was one of the judges at this year’s competition.

Davis, who went on to claim the first runner-up spot at the annual pageant, chose the song, “Naacho Re,” from the 2013 film, “Jai Ho,” for her performance, which was choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan, the same Indian American choreographer who had helped Davuluri clinch the crown.

The video of the performance is now gaining a lot of traction on social media. While some are lauding Davis for promoting diversity, others are calling her out for cultural appropriation. Yay or nay, it’s not clear what Davuluri thought.

But social media users have formed somewhat of an opinion that points towards her dismissive approach to the act. Some have gone as far as creating memes showing that Davuluri clearly wasn’t a fan of the performance.

Former Miss America Mallory Hagan, who passed on the crown to Davuluri, wrote on Twitter: “Not here for MO’s talent. @NinaDavuluri was the queen of #Bollywood.”

One comment read: “Can we just take a moment for @NinaDavuluri poker face after Miss Missouri’s Bollywood dance #MissAmerica,” while another read: “Is it #culturalappropriation when Miss Missouri does a bollywood dance on #MissAmerica? Nina Davuluri didn’t look that enthused, #tbh.”

One wished that there would’ve been a “camera on @NinaDavuluri all night. #MissAmerica #judgeface.”

“Why do you do Bollywood, are you even of the culture. I get this question all of the time, and my response is, because I LOVE it,” Davis, a 23-year-old graduate of Saint Louis University, later wrote on Instagram explaining her decision. “The beauty of dance is that no matter where you come from, we can have a common denominator, and that is a love of dance... Diversity Matters is much more than a platform for me, it is my life.”

Davis, who ran on a platform of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall - Diversity Matters,” continued: “Not only do I come from a diverse background, I have known the joy of embracing another culture fully. With all of that being said, I want to thank Nakul for teaching me, and loving me. I encourage you all to go out and embrace a culture different from your own, because your life will be forever enriched.”

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