Hill Auditorium will once again be filled with the sounds of Indian music and dancing tonight. After two years at the Michigan Theater, the annual Indian American Student Association Cultural Show returns to the recently renovated auditorium.
This year, the show is titled “Avinaashi: Times Change, Essence Remains.” Avinaashi is a Sanskrit word meaning “everlasting.” According to IASA vice-chair Sophia Rahman, the subtitle is meant to explain India’s unique modernity, which encompasses both old and new traditions. The pieces reflect this by incorporating modern twists into traditional dances.
The cultural show includes 10 performances, beginning with Bengali and concluding with South Indian dances. Included are dances from the different states and cultures found within India. Dances range from “Bollywood,” (the Indian version of Hollywood based in Bombay) to a North Indian Bhangra. Each dance is approximately six to eight minutes long, with the show running close to two and a half hours.
Three dances — South Indian, Tambourine and Bengali — were added after the start of the school year to accommodate many people who were on the waiting list. The IASA board and the core members of the group had anticipated a shortage of dances at the end of last school year, but had kept potential choreographers in mind in case more dances needed to be added. When the demand was higher than originally anticipated, adding three new dances was not a problem. “The mission of IASA is to allow everyone who wants to participate in the show to do so, and we were able to do that this year with the addition of the new dances,” Rahman said.
Though one would expect there to be some logistical problems in the transition from holding the show at the Michigan Theater to holding it at Hill Auditorium, Rahman commented that the move to Hill actually made the show much easier. Since dressing rooms are in the Modern Languages Building, in past years, performers needed to be transported to the Michigan Theater. That logistical nightmare has been eliminated this year, Rahman explained, because the MLB is now connected to Hill Auditorium via underground tunnels.
The move to Hill also means the elimination of the matinee and evening show format that had been adopted in the past two years because of the smaller size of the Michigan Theater. According to Rahman, most people are excited that the “two show format”is no longer necessary. Even though being able to perform the dances twice made the show much more exciting for performers, a new thrill exists in performing at Hill Auditorium, which can seat 4,000 people.
IASA is one of the only student organizations that has permission to perform in the Auditorium, and members consider this a great honor. “It is a privilege and a thrill for IASA members to perform on the same stage as some of the world’s greatest musicians and entertainers, like Ravi Shankar, who performed there recently,” said Rahman.