‘That Brown Show’ includes variety of South Asian performances

Sunday, March 27, 2016 - 2:29pm

Michigan Sahana hosted That Brown Show Saturday night at the Michigan Theater, featuring student performing groups focused on South Asian styles including Michigan Manzil, Maize Mirchi, Maya, the Michigan Bhangra Team, the Michigan Raas Team, TAAL, Izzat and Michigan Sahana.

The performances, which drew about 700 people, included classical Indian dances, singing and Indofusion, a mix of American and Indian styles.

Engineering senior Kavinmozhi Caldwell, a member of both Maya and Sahana, said Maya strives to combine other cultures into their routines. In past shows, Maya has performed Indochinese numbers and danced to African beats with drums, as well as incorporating their native dancing techniques.

“We try to connect with Hispanic, African-American and Chinese culture,” said Caldwell. “(Maya) takes Bharatanatyam, Kathak or other Indian classical dances and fuses it with ballet, jazz or salsa, for example.”

Engineering junior Shreya Raman attended the show to support her friends who were performing in various groups.

“My favorite was Izzat. There was a lot of energy overall, and it was great to experience the different styles of dance and music,” Raman said. “TBS brings together the different teams and provides a sense of belonging in the entire community.”

Many of the groups begin choreographing and rehearsing for the show months in advance. LSA sophomore Liam Wiesenberger, a member of Izzat, said the team has been working on their numbers since September, adding that his past experiences with dance contributed to his decision to participate here.

“I really enjoyed the Bollywood and Bhangra style (in high school) so I decided to continue that at U of M," he said. "And it’s nice to see the consolidation of all the Indian (performing arts) in one show where everyone supports each other.”

LSA sophomore Dhara Gosalia, public relations chair of Sahana, said Michigan Sahana created a TBS planning committee to ease the huge undertaking of organizing the show, which also requires long-term planning.

“We usually have to start looking for venues a year in advance,” Gosalia said.

One of the more challenging aspects of planning this event, she added, is trying to reach out to a broader audience and raise awareness about South Asian culture.

“Building public awareness is big for us,” she said. “One of the main reasons we do this show is to raise awareness of the different South Asian performing art forms and how it represents the mixture of the Indian-American identity.”

Correction apphended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the committee responsible for planning That Brown Show was created this year.