Four female dancers in brightly colored skirts with bells wrapped around their ankles danced gracefully to a Classical Indian song at Agassiz Theatre Thursday night in the twenty-third annual production of Ghungroo.
Ghungroo, a showcase of South Asian dance and music produced by the Harvard South Asian Association, is Harvard’s largest student-run production. This year more than 380 students participated in the production, according to the SAA website.
The showcase’s music included traditional North and South Indian numbers as well as songs from Bollywood films and contemporary American pop tunes, such as Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.”
One of the acts, titled “Hindi Film,” was a dynamic, upbeat dance performed to Bollywood songs. Female dancers wore blue, green, and pink sarongs as they energetically danced in time with male dancers clothed in blue tunics and pink head scarves.
Many in attendance said that Raas, a traditional Indian folk dance from Western India, ranked among their favorite performances. Female dancers started the dance and were soon joined by male dancers in orange and silver striped tunics. They twirled and clapped sticks called dandiyas together in a very active, fast-paced dance.
Some of the dancers faced difficulties in learning to use dandiyas. “There’s a very high initial barrier [to learning the dance] because you have to learn how to spin the sticks,” dancer Arjun M. Nandkishore ’13 said.
Musical performances, such as an a cappella love song, and a five-act play provided brief interludes between numbers.
The play, titled “When Love Goes to Bollywood,” followed the story of a girl named Sheila Saxena, who is in love with a Bollywood superstar, Rahul Oberoi. To capture his heart, Sheila Saxena must become a star herself, so she enlists the help of Luv Prasad, a timid boy that has been in love with her for years. The short comedy had the audience roaring as Sheila Saxena’s over-the-top friend narrated the Bollywood-style romance.
Audience member Marina Molarsky-Beck ’15 described the show as “exciting, energetic, and fun.”
A short solo dance act that was not on the program garnered much cheering and clapping from the audience. The stage lights were turned off as a dancer dressed in all black cracked blue and green glow sticks. Twirling them to an upbeat Indian song, the dancer made rings of light around his body.
The two-hour long show drew to a close with a dance performed by the seniors in the cast. Female dancers in sparkling gold tops and loose black pants and male dancers in glittering blue tunics and matching gold pants danced enthusiastically to a mash up of South Asian songs. The number ended with the dancers chanting “2012.”
Many of the dancers worked for over five weeks on their acts, and the tech team worked on the set for over a month.
Alexa S. Fishman ’13, who attended the opening, said that she appreciated the show’s cultural diversity.
“I come from an area that is not as diverse as Harvard. Seeing something like Ghungroo is a novel experience. All the variety is really incredible,” Fishman said.