On Nov. 12, Hill Auditorium played host to the largest student run production in the nation. The Indian American Student Association put on its annual cultural show for a sold out crowd. This year’s show — Samasti: Elements of Illusion — featured nine different dance styles from all over India. It included everything from iconic Bollywood to traditional Indian Classical to a fusion combining both East and West. For the 4,000 individuals in the audience, it was a night of mesmerizing costumes, songs and performances.
I was both a spectator and a performer for this grand event. While I had heard a lot about the “amazing” show that IASA puts on, this was my first time actually witnessing it. I was taken aback by how well organized everything was. Even with over 200 participants and thousands of audience members wandering around Hill Auditorium, there was little to no chaos. Everyone was seated or taken backstage in an orderly fashion, by the time the show began.
And the overall presentation was very professional — each dance was introduced by short videos. Also thrown into the mix were videos introducing IASA executive board and the show coordinators. It speaks volumes about the University that students put together such a polished production. Everything from advertising to coordinating technology to providing holding rooms and food for the participants was taken care of by the students. The months up to the show featured many late nights for the show coordinators chalking, flyering and managing dress rehearsals, but this dedication and initiative paid off. Both the IASA board and the show coordinators do a phenomenal job each year making sure the show lives up to its reputation and hype.
And if I’ve learned anything being a part of an IASA dance, it’s that there’s a lot of hype. I was a part of the Bollywood dance this year — yes, we “taught you how to Bolly.” What struck me the most was that being in a dance wasn’t simply learning the steps and performing, which was the case in previous performances I’ve participated in. It wasn’t just about practicing and getting the choreography. It was about meeting all different people and building relationships that will last long after the show has ended.
In the months leading up to the show, I found a new family here at the University — my Bollywood family. And, the same can be said for any of the nine dances. Each dance made up its own chant, held “bondings” and got t-shirts and sweats. We not only danced the steps, we belted out every word of the songs and smiled until our faces hurt. We bonded over sore legs and sleepless nights. Going to practice every night at Mason Hall was not just a part of my daily routine, but also a much anticipated event — I got to dance off the stress of a long day and see all my new friends.
Participating in the IASA show is the experience of a lifetime. The show in itself is the epitome of students coming together to create something magical. It stands as a testimony to what dedication and hard work can produce. It’s a display of Indian culture, reflecting the rich diversity that exists within the nation itself. But above all, it’s a chance to form some of the most amazing friendships one will find here at the University.
If you missed it this year, I highly suggest attending next year or checking out the videos of the dances on YouTube. And if you were shy this year or didn’t have the time, really consider participating next year. It will be the best two-and-a-half months of your life.
Harsha Nahata is a LSA freshman.