Students Organize Arts Showcase, Raise Funds for Charity

About 30 undergraduate students traveled to Long Island, N.Y. over the weekend to put on “Karisma,” a song-and-dance showcase that aimed to raise funds for Nepali earthquake relief as well as cancer research and treatment this year.

According to Meenakshi Krishna ’17, president and founding director of Karisma, the Office of Student Life gave funding to the students—most of whom belong to Harvard Bhangra dance company and Dharma, Harvard’s Hindu student organization—to travel.

“[Karisma] started off as a community arts showcase with people from local high schools dancing and participating,” Krishna said. According to Krishna, the organization has two central goals: To raise money for charities through artistic performances, and to bring together some of the best South Asian performers on the east coast.

Founded in 2012 by a group of college and high school students, Karisma has raised a total of $18,000 for various charities. This year, the showcase featured over a dozen dance and a capella groups and broke the organization’s records, garnering a total of $20,000 in one event. The proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Help for Desperate and Needy People, Krishna added.

“With the recent earthquake in Nepal, HDNP Nepal takes the funds and manages immediate relief efforts including helping rebuild infrastructure and homes that have been destroyed in the earthquake,” Krishna said.

Performers included Yale Sur et Veritaal, an a capella group, and Columbia Bhangra, as well as Cornell Bhangra, which has been featured on America’s Got Talent, and Wanted Ashiqz, which has appeared on So You Think You Can Dance.

“This is one of the only showcase where these teams come together and perform for free,” Krishna said

Although Harvard Bhangra did not have a routine ready at the competition level to perform and will make its Karisma debut next year, Harvard still had a large presence at the event, according to Krishna.

“It was a wonderful celebration of South Asian culture and especially how it can blend with mainstream American culture, and of course it was great working for the benefit of such great charities,” said Neel Mehta ’18, one of Karisma’s co-hosts.

The event came together after nearly a year of planning on behalf of Karisma’s board, which currently includes 11 members, four of whom are from Harvard.

“Our team has been working hard this past year to organize the charity arts showcase, and it was so wonderful to see the hard work pay off last Saturday evening,” said Swetha Sanagavarapu ’17, Karisma’s public and alumni relations chair.

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