The Rogel Ballroom of the Michigan Union filled Sunday for a night of Indian music and dance.
The annual winter concert, Swarānjalī, is organized by Michigan Sahana, a group of Indian classical artists focused on the performance and appreciation of the traditional Indian art forms. These students organize concerts and educational events throughout the year to spread awareness of India’s traditions of music and dance.
LSA freshman and Sahana member Krithika Balakrishnan said the concert allows participants to integrate their own creative ideas into the performance.
“Swaranjali is an unthemed concert, so musicians and artists can explore whatever they want. It’s not constrained, it’s a lot more open,” she said. “The dancers have been coming together to create the choreography for each particular song for the past two to three weeks.”
Indian classical music has developed over thousands of years. However today, it can be classified into two main styles— Hindustani, which originated in northern India and Carnatic, from southern India. Though these types of music use different instruments, they share a similar reliance on improvisation.
LSA senior and Sahana member Shruthi Subramaniam said the welcoming atmosphere of the group translates into how she and others perform.
“I’m a part of one of the group performances, so we have two vocalists and two flautists,” she said. “The organization as a whole is very open to all members so there’s no specific qualifications. But to perform on this kind of stage you have to audition with either the music or dance chair.”
Indian classical dance forms are rooted in the Natya Shastra, a treaty on Indian classical theatre which was authored by the Hindu Sage Bharatha around the first or third century C.E. The classical dance forms that were performed at Swaranjali included Kathak from the North and Bharathanātyam from the South.
Though there are commonalities between the dances, the structures and the costumes worn by performers have evolved due to the differences in regions.
Along with seven performances, the concert also included a slide show dedicated to the graduating seniors to thank them and wish them luck for the future. The Sahana board said they were very appreciative for the strong audience turnout.
“We transitioned into a new board about a month back, so at the beginning of January we started working on preparations for the show,” Business sophomore Dhara Gosalia, the public relations chair for Sahana, said. “Along with social media and flyering around campus, we reached out to professors who teach something related to the South Asian performing arts. There are also local dance and classical music teachers who work with us and do workshops with us as well.”
Engineering senior Angelica Okorom said she enjoyed all of the different aspects of the performance.
“I think the show has been really good. I liked the performance with the dancers doing complimentary movements,” she said. “I also really enjoy listening to the unique instrumental pieces.”