It takes a special blend of professionalism and enjoyment from performers to make an emotional connection with the audience. The very best of shows and performances do exactly that—connecting with those who watch, bringing them into the world of the art that lies in front of them. It is a rare experience, unlike any other, to be a part of an audience who has connected so deeply with the performers, making it all the more refreshing when it does happen.
This was the case with the South Asian Student Association’s latest culture show. Kahaani, SASA’s 19th annual culturally-based talent performance, was featured in Robsham Theater this past Saturday night. All ticket proceeds from the event went to Pratham USA. SASA’s display featured students from across all classes performing in a variety of mediums—mostly dance, but skits, singing, and instrumental numbers as well. From beginning to end, every section of the show was a delight.
Kahaani began with a routine by Boston College dance troupe Masti, who performed to a sampling of Bollywood songs, blowing away the expectations of the audience and starting the night off on the right foot. Masti’s performance transitioned into a rendition of “Sun Saathiya,” with particularly beautiful piano accompaniment by Suraj Mudichintala, CSOM ’16. Throughout the night, SASA presented the audience with grade-specific dances—freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors alike all proved how well their hard work had paid off. On a technical level, the sophomores stole the show with excellent choreography and a very funny introduction video. By far the most heartwarming moment of the night was the class of 2016’s final dance together—each dancer poured obvious passion and an overwhelming sense of camaraderie into the final act, making it arguably the best part of Kahaani.
The audience was overjoyed while watching each genre-specific dance—from the flashy moves and stylish costumes of Bhangra, to the upbeat sequences and perfect timing of Garba, each new dance of Kahaani brought with it an impressive level of detail and effort. Near the end of the show, percussionist Sourabh Banthia, CSOM ’17, made an entrancing display of South Asian instrumental music, blending contemporary drumming techniques with punjabi dhol and Tamil “kuthu.” Other non-dance-specific acts included a SASA fashion show led by Aditya Luthra and Akash Desai, both CSOM ’17, as well as a skit telling the story of an elderly man’s journey from rural India to the United States of America. Directors Suraj Mudichintala and Ameet Kallarackal, CSOM ’18, delivered an excellent dose of comedic relief to the audience, leaving no one without a smile on their face.
The lighting team behind this year’s Culture Show deserves an honorable mention—several times, the lighting made Kahaani the standout performance that it was. On a number of occasions, dancers would be backlit by a bright red screen, forcing the audience to see only silhouettes of the dancers. Perhaps more than any other detail of the show, this trick of lighting kept every single eye in Robsham glued to the mystical movements of SASA’s performers.
At no point during Kahaani did the audience appear bored or uninterested, speaking volumes not only for the pacing of the show, but also for the acts themselves. With every passing dance, viewers shouted their approval, calling out the names of the dancers they were most impressed with. Most shows have a tendency to become fairly one-dimensional, with little to no audience interaction. But this could not be said of Kahaani. Perhaps more than anything, this is what made Kahaani such a joy to attend.
Featured Image By Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor