Robsham Theatre exhibited an array of vibrant colors last Saturday night as it hosted the South Asian Student Association’s (SASA) 17th Annual culture show, Apna Zamana. Minutes before showtime a SASA alumnus announced to the audience that the venue was officially sold out.
Following the announcement, masters of ceremonies Caila Quinn, CSOM ’14, and Wesley Mather, A&S ’14, formally welcomed the audience to the organization’s show.
The SASA culture club represents the nations of South Asia, namely India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, and its culture show is the biggest yearly forum at Boston College in which the association is able to foster cross-cultural understanding and promote the uniqueness of South Asian culture.
The show commenced with a presentation from the Saheli Charity-an organization dedicated to supporting South Asian women and families in the Greater Boston area-that highlighted statistics regarding domestic abuse in South Asia and among South Asian immigrants.
Although the charity’s presentation engaged the audience about pressing socio-political issues rooted in South Asian culture, the night proceeded by welcoming the first dance troupe with enthusiasm.
Masti, SASA’s premier dance group, bolstered the performance with its mix of contemporary and classical dance, infusing Bollywood-style grace with groovy disco moves. This musical fusion would prove to be the theme of the night, with every dance and musical performance innovatively combining the modern with the traditional.
A group of freshman SASA members then took the stage to showcase their dance routine.
“This dance has made us closer-helped us bond,” said Isra Hussain, A&S ’17, of the dance’s difficulty.
The freshmen were followed by four female students who combined dance styles from Northern and Southern India, performing with bells around their ankles. The choreography added a unique flare to the group’s take on the popular Beyonce song “Deja Vu.”
Afterward, the event shifted its tone from playful to competitive with a dance battle between the all-male dance troupe and the all-female ensemble. The friendly competition generated substantial applause for both teams, but ultimately leaned in favor of the all-female ensemble.
The evening was punctuated with a message from GlobeMed, a student organization that promotes sustainability and community projects in the developing world.
Sahil Angelo and Monica Azmy, both A&S ’14, informed the audience of their ongoing project to improve sanitation and increase Hepatitis B vaccinations in the Siruvani region of India.
The lights then came down on the most rocking performance of the evening when three SASA members reanimated a Disney classic with Hindi lyrics. Varsha Ramesh, A&S ’16, and Matt Thomas, A&S ’14, had the crowd swooning during their duet of “A Whole New World” from the movie Aladdin.
“It was a good twist on a classic favorite,” said Kelly McGrath, A&S ’15. She felt similarly about the on-campus a cappella group Shaan’s rendition of Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” which wove Hindi and English lyrics throughout the piece.
A brief intermission did little to lessen the high energy in Robsham as a fashion show displaying colorful and ornate clothing from around South Asia continued to performance.
Theatrics from the student models kept the light-hearted feel of the night alive and set the stage for a soulful tribute to Bollywood films.
“There’s a lot more to Bollywood than you might think,” Mather said as he introduced the audience to a re-enactment from the classic Bollywood film Guru. Kiran Mani, A&S ’15, dazzled in her sparkling, jewel-encrusted dress.
Next was a celebration of the Punjab, India. Students in radiant orange outfits danced with props that symbolized the tools used by farmers of the region. The music, however, was closer to home-the Indian songs were infused with club beats and dubstep drops.
The battle of the classes resumed as the sophomore members of SASA showed off their acrobatic skills shortly before the junior class displayed a vying dance performance of its own.
After a brief moment of calm, a spotlight illuminated Priyasha Chaturvedi, SASA co-president and A&S ’14, as she took her seat behind the piano. “[Chaturvedi] really displays the talent SASA has to offer,” Quinn said.
Having participated in eight of the night’s acts, Chaturvedi led one the show’s last performances with a heartfelt ballad from a recent Bollywood film.
The show came to a conclusion when the largest dance troupe of the night took the stage-the SASA Class of 2014 went out in style, showcasing a vibrant display of red, blue, silver, and gold.
“I’m very happy with how it went,” said Tommy Steichen, a member of the dance group and CSOM ’14. “It was a great experience.”