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Dance Team From Slums of Mumbai Wins Golden Buzzer on 'America's Got Talent'


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Eradicating global poverty is at the center of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty — on less than $5.50 a day — often making it difficult for them to pursue their education and achieve their dreams. Despite living in poverty, the members of dance team V. Unbeatable have remained resilient and found ways to pursue their greatest aspirations — but for many others living in poverty in India, this is not their reality. Join us in taking action on this and related issues here.

Indian acrobatic dance crew V. Unbeatable was gifted the push of the coveted “golden buzzer” after their performance on America’s Got Talent on Tuesday night. Guest judge Dwayne Wade hit the buzzer allowing the team to progress straight through to the live shows, bypassing additional rounds of the competition. 

“I had this saying whenever I hit a big shot, whenever I hit a game winner, if it was one of those moments, I jumped up on the stands and I said, 'This is my house.' And today, on this stage, this is y'all's house," he said seconds before golden confetti rained on the stage and the crowd and the judges rose to their feet in standing ovation.

The group of 29 dancers, ranging in age from 12 to 27, has found viral success online, but there is more to their story than that of an average dance crew. Originally from India, most of the group's members have lived in poverty and overcome great challenges to pursue their passion for dance.

During their first audition, released on YouTube and on NBC's social media channels before their performance aired on May 28, the dancers revealed that their group is united by having faced a shared struggle: poverty. Most of the group’s members have been heavily impacted by poverty and inequality, residing in the slums of Mumbai.

“Life in Mumbai is very hard. The life in [the] slums — they don’t get proper water,” one dancer said, becoming visibly emotional.

In a video, he share details of what the reality of living in the slums has been like for him and his teammates. 

“The slums are very crowded, very dirty, and they don’t get proper electricity. Often seven to 10 people are staying in one room. It is very challenging to survive over there,” he said

Read More: Half the World's Poor Live in Just Five Countries: Report

An estimated 70.6 million people in India live in extreme poverty, defined as living on $1.90 per day or less. In addition, 163 million Indians lack access to clean water, and improved sanitation is not available to 210 million

But, according to the group, dance has always provided them an escape from this tough reality. 

“Each day, we pray for a better life, but in the slums, there is very little opportunity for us. When we dance, we forget all the tensions in our mind and we feel free,” the dancer said in the video.  

However, living in Mumbai — a city where some of the country’s wealthiest and most underpriviledged communities are neighbors — helped to make those aspirations more accessible. The group gained recognition from audiences and celebrities alike for their skill and dedication through performances on televised talent shows in Mumbai. 

Read More: India Halved Its Poverty Rate in 10 Years: Report

V. Unbeatable said they hope that performing on America’s Got Talent will provide them a platform they never had before and said it could offer them a chance to continue to better the lives of their loved ones. 

“This opportunity could change our [lives] and everyone wants to succeed to give back to their families,” the dancer said.

Despite living in one-room homes and lacking proper access to electricity and clean drinking water, these dancers have found ways to overcome their circumstances and pursue their biggest dreams — performing on the world's stage and making a name for themselves. Win or lose, their journey to this point has been a victory in itself for the group.

“It’s our dream come true,” the dancer said