Sanskriti Performers Combine Variety of Styles for Energetic Show

raincoats, weddings and classical Indian dance were just some of the many performance themes at Sanskriti 2015. Members of EKTA, the 5C South Asian student organization, put on the show in a packed Bridges Auditorium Saturday, April 4.

Sanskriti is a socio-cultural
festival that celebrates Indian culture through music, dance and stories that
mimic the style of Bollywood films. In the past, members have revitalized the
performance with new storylines—for example, last year’s featured a lesbian couple. Sanskriti’s energy is always fresh as students find new ways to explore their
culture and heritage. 

Members of EKTA and the Bollywood dance crew have long been working collaboratively to develop a plan for the performance, and much effort went into the creative process. 

“Sanskriti is something that EKTA and the Bollywood dance crew puts on together every year,” performer Justin Joseph PO ’17 said. “A bunch of the officers in the Bollywood dance crew initially volunteered to choreograph a song that they really wanted to dance to. Later, when we started coming up with the storyline as well as the script for this year’s show, we started choreographing songs that would be related to the plot.

“It was a really hectic process, but thankfully it all came together pretty well in the end,” he added. 

Performer Shreyas Kaddaba PO ’18 also commented on the work that went into the final product. 

“I’d say there was an immense amount of running around with only student leaders and performers, but towards the show date, it was amazing how the performers came together and all the choreographies came into place.”  

The main plot, written by members of EKTA, involved a young couple, Parth and Nidhi, touring India and investigating the possible mafia connections of their airline, India
Travel Co. In the course of their research, they uncover the alias Evil
Raincoat and carry out a heavy-duty investigation.

EKTA used numerous media formats,
including pre-recorded film, voiceovers and interactive maps, to illustrate
the dynamic culture of India and the complexities of the plot. The plot was
intermingled with performances from various campus groups, including classical
Indian dance group Kathak and hip-hop group Groove Nation.

“Not knowing a lot about Indian culture, it
was so great to see students of the 5Cs expressing it with pride,” Valerie Taylor PO ’18 said. “I definitely want to go again next year.”

Some highlights from the night
included the vocal stylings of numerous students at the 5Cs, who sang songs
from popular Bollywood movies. These performances, along with intricate dance
arrangements, traditional dress and tech-infused pieces, played into Sanskriti’s signature mixture of classical tradition with modern Indian culture. 

Sanskriti also had a humanitarian component. EKTA hosted a bone marrow drive before and
after the show, which was organized through the South Asian Marrow Association
of Recruiters. As there are not many South Asian individuals registered on the
national bone marrow registry, the organization found it imperative to
advertise at public events.           

The event thus fuses and celebrates different components, from entertainment to altruism to helping people understand South Asian culture, an aspect that Joseph has found particularly gratifying. Due to the show’s large audience, though, he was initially anxious to perform. 

“A lot of people may not have
noticed, but I was extremely nervous to act out the grandfather scene,” he
said, referring to a scene in the acting part of the show. “I only
rehearsed it once, and the voiceover wasn’t even mine. Once I got onstage, the
adrenaline kicked in, and I just went for it. I really enjoyed both the
performance and the acting aspect of the show, and even though I’ll be abroad
for next year’s show, I’ll make sure to make my senior-year Sanskriti amazing!”

Though EKTA organized the event,
it was sponsored by a wide variety of organizations, including the PEC, ASCMC, SAS, Claremont Tamasha, Big Bridges, the Motley, SCORE, AARC,
Pomona Dance Dept., Pomona Theater Dept., Adboard, I-Place, CAPAS, APAC, Pomona
Dean’s Office, ASHMC, SARLO, Multicultural Spring Events Committee and Pomona
Academic Deans’ Office.

“I’ve really enjoyed talking about
my heritage here,” Joseph said. “From Sanskriti to the Desi Table, it’s obvious
that the students here are really open-minded and enjoy discussing topics that
are relevant and interesting. I really hope that any student with Indian
heritage feels comfortable enough to explore their identity on campus, however
that may be done.”

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