Anoop Kumar and Sumugam Balachandran
Tufts Association of South Asians (TASA) organized their annual cultural show 'EKTA' (Unity) on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2, 2002 at Cohen Auditorium, Tufts University. TASA primarily represents the following seven countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka yet their membership is not limited to South Asians. TASA organizes a variety of events throughout the year and this culture show is their sell out attraction every year luring in a large number of South Asians from New England region. This year the TASA gala event was a sell out, Lucky few could cash in on their policy of releasing bunch of tickets just before the show. The auditorium was packed primarily with South Asians with a generous sprinkling of 'juntha' of other origin.
The show started with Vande Mataram instilling a feeling of peace and oneness in the auditorium. The choreography was apt with slow but subtle movements, with dancers holding the lamp 'diya' (lamp) symbolism of EKTA for the JAN SAMUH.
The Show Directors, Devang Dave, Kavita Patel, Mili Patel, Ronak Patel and Meena Sharma then greeted the audience and presented the agenda for the evening.
The program had a classical and modified classical piece. Radhika Thakkar presented a Thillana and Rumeli Banik and Anjali Midha presented a Taragam in an attempt to exploit the nuances of Bharathnatyam set to non-traditional music. This type of fusion and creativity makes one applaud the bold display of talent and the efforts put in to choreograph such a piece.
Bhangra lovers must have had a very good time. There were three Bhangra pieces and every piece made the crowd go bonkers. Personally the highlight of the show was the 'Bhangra Battle', a fusion of bhangra and the movie Matrix where high energy bhangra dancers are challenged by a 'bhangra agent' who is defeated in the bhangra battle done in Slow-Motion like the gun fight in Matrix. This piece was well conceived and presented.
The super hit among the vocal category was the song "Tum Paas Aye" from the Bollywood top grosser 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' sung by Edwin Johnson, of Non-South Asian Origin. Edwin added a non-Indian touch to the Bollywood hit number creating an out of the world listening experience- way to go Edwin.
MC's were very creative in filling up the gaps between succeeding pieces. The spoofs on Jerry Springer Show, Find your Match and Jeopardy with “Big B” (Amitabh Bachchan) as the host were amusing.
We could notice a few performers on the stage who were not of South Asian origin. Their presence was a reassuring reminder of the inclusivity of TASA and the South Asian heritage it represents. Even more remarkable was the ease with which they were able to mix, mingle and enjoy every moment of a very South Asian theme of enjoyment. The name 'EKTA' was very appropriate for the medley TASA had presented. In striking contrast to all the non-peaceful activities around the world, TASA brought out this wonderful program which demonstrated 'unity' in all dimensions bringing home the message "SARVE JANAH SUKHINUV BHAVANTHU".
Proceeds of this event went to ASHA for Education.
(Both the writers Anoop Kumar and Sumugam Balachandran have Masters Degree from Tufts University. Anoop is co-founder and technical director of Lokvani.com. Sumugam works for Aware Inc.. )
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