IASA show highlights Indian dance culture

Sunday, November 13, 2016 - 9:06pm

The Indian American Student Association sold out its annual cultural show performance at Hill Auditorium Friday night, drawing about 4,000 students, faculty, staff and parents who came to watch 200 students dancers perform varying styles of Indian dance.

The show was named Jhilmilaa: Vibrance of Our Nation, or “shimmering” in Hindi, to reflect the theme of all dances in the show, according to LSA sophomore Aneesha Yande, a member of the ‘Showcore,’ an event production company.

IASA president Juhi Patel, an LSA senior, said the night would showcase the diversity of the Indian-American culture and the inclusive spirit of IASA.

“We’ve been the second largest organization on campus, and we want to go further … and make this more of a home for other people, too,” Patel said. “Regardless of what’s going on outside, we’re here to accept everyone and be a safe place. The show is a way … to express our identities.”

Among the many styles performed were Bollywood, fusion, hip-hop, South Indian and Village. The show consisted of nine dance performances as well as an intermission performance by the Maize Mirchi acapella group. The dancers were clad in colorful traditional garments. Indian songs were mixed with American pop hits for some of the high-energy dance soundtracks.

The show began with both the Indian and the American national anthems being sung by University of Michigan students. The Bollywood-style group kicked off its dance performances with energetic beats and bright costumes. 

Between dances, there were video interludes that narrated the stories of children from India and the Asha Kiran foundation, an organization which works to educate underprivileged children in India. Some of the other videos included IASA board members explaining the types of dances being performed to the audience as well as introducing themselves and each dance group to the crowd.

A large amount of preparation and a large student force were required to organize this event, which filled Hill Auditorium.

“We needed all hands on deck for this,” Patel said. “We have 400 members, and putting (the show) on involves the majority of our membership. (It’s) a year-long process and (dancers) begin practicing in September.”

Engineering junior Ashwin Johri said he helped coordinate logistics and has been involved in IASA for a few years.

“I love how (the show) showcases so many wonderful parts of Indian culture in such a historic venue at this school,” Johri said.

The groups began practicing at the beginning of the semester, but some of the choreographers have been working on the dances since the summer. Engineering junior Parth Oak, who performed a Village-style dance, said his group of around 20 students practiced twice a week and practices became more frequent as the show drew nearer.

“The show has been a tradition in the school and shows that, while some things are changing, other things are the same,” Oak said. “There’s still reason to be proud of who you are.”