“I’m really sorry, I’m on one hour of sleep right now,” said Engineering senior Apurva Lingnurkar, co-coordinator of the 2009 Indian American Student Association cultural show, as he put the finishing touches on the show, hurriedly tweaking dance moves, fixing lighting cues and organizing chaos. And add to all this a last-minute interview. Lingnurkar was understandably distracted — he and fellow coordinator Engineering senior Nishi Shah have been planning the spectacle since February. All this work, time and sweat is culminating in a single performance tonight at Hill Auditorium.
At Hill Auditorium
Tonight, 7 p.m.
“Vistaara,” the title of this year’s show (the 26th annual installment), showcases the efforts of 250 participants who have been practicing their routines since September. The show spotlights various dances that encapsulate aspects of Indian culture, including the traditional dances of “Bhangra,” native to the state of Punjab, and “Raas,” a folk dance. New to this year’s show is an all-girl progression, which fuses several dance forms together, as well as a men’s tribal dance.
A multi-sensory experience of great music and elaborate choreography, the show is also for a good cause. All proceeds from “Vistaara” will go toward Pratham, a charity that works to give illiterate and impoverished children in India an education.
“Vistaara,” translating to “development” or “progression” in Sanskrit, precisely correlates to the theme of the show.
“We wished to portray how various styles of Indian dance have changed over time,” Lingnurkar said.
“We plan on doing that through different music and different dance steps, featuring newer and older types of dance.”
Planning the intricacies of the dances – some of which feature dozens of participants dancing simultaneously — is the job of the show’s dedicated choreographers. LSA seniors Kriti Samaymantri and Manika Agarwal have been planning their dance portion since April. It represents the evolution of the Bollywood film industry.
“(To embody the theme) we chose songs from the ’70s through present day — popular songs that the audience and dancers would be able to get in to,” Samaymantri said.
Even audience members who speak no South Asian languages will be able to follow the “progression of time” in the songs of this dance. The upbeat, vivacious songs stretch from a jazzy prelude entirely in Hindi to a very modern, club-hopping groove featuring lyrics recognizable to English speakers like “Ain’t nobody like my Desi girl.” (Desi means “Indian.”)
Although the performance’s leaders devote tremendous effort to perfecting the show, there’s an absolute “wow” factor to the complex composition and precise that can only be credited to the devotion of the dancers. The participants have been vigorously practicing since September, putting six to eight hours every week. But LSA senior Yash Chauhan, member of the “Bollywood” dance troupe, doesn’t fret about the sizeable practice obligations.
“You’ll sacrifice the hours cause you’re having so much fun at practice,” he says. “It’s going towards a good cause, and the show is such a big deal for (the university) — it’s the biggest student run production on campus.”
On stage, this enthusiasm translates to an exuberant event, where the performers will be whirling and pulsating with a wide grin. The only people having more fun will be in the audience.