5C Bollywood Dance Company Hosts Annual Sanskriti, Promotes Inclusivity


Students perform a Punjabi dance onstage
The folk dance Bhangra, a high-energy, traditional Punjabi dance performed by students dressed in the colors of the rainbow, was one of the highlights of the night. (Chloe Ortiz • The Student Life)


Students in colorful outfits dance onstage
Dancers, including those swirling with yellow and purple skirts, perform in one of Sanskriti co-ed dance. (Chloe Ortiz • The Student Life)

Between a love triangle, traditional folk dances, Urdu poetry, and classical instruments, this year’s Sanskriti was a colorful whirlwind that celebrated South Asian culture. Presented April 6 at Pomona College’s Big Bridges Auditorium, the show was dynamic and full of energy.

Claremont Tamasha, a 5C Bollywood dance company, organizes the annual Sanskriti, which is a cultural and entertainment show featuring classical, Bollywood, Punjabi, South Indian, and hip-hop performances. Similar to years past, the 2018 show emulated Bollywood movies with a classic, cheesy story as well as a range of performances.

Some of the highlights included folk dances, such as Bhangra and Dandiya. The former is a high-energy, traditional Punjabi dance performed by students dressed in the colors of the rainbow. The latter originated in western India and featured dancers with sticks in their hands.

Two musicians played the santoor — an indo-persian string instrument — and the tabla — an Indian percussion instrument. This year’s show was also the first time Sanskriti at the 5Cs featured a South Indian dance medley.

Claremont Tamasha emphasized enthusiasm and inclusivity to all performers, and put on seven of the dances at Sanskriti.

“Tamasha’s goal is to reach as many people who want to participate in Sanskriti or just dance,” Jahnavi Kothari SC ’19 said. “So you don’t need to have any prior experience; it’s inclusive to everyone.”

As a result, the event was dependent on word of mouth; friends would encourage each other to participate.

Latisha Shah CM ’18 spoke about how the process of recruiting dancers was flexible and welcoming.

“We ask them to try it out. We [aren’t] like, ‘Oh you come, and then you have to be in the dance,’” Shah said.

Kothari added that the spirit of the process was more important.

“There’s no pressure to be doing the right steps and everything,” Kothari said. “It’s all about having fun and providing us with your energy and enthusiasm.”

This low-pressure strategy was successful. Many of Kothari’s friends who were involved in a dance organized by Scripps College students wanted to do a secondary dance with Tamasha because of how much they enjoyed dancing in the inclusive environment.

Yuki Ratna PZ ’19 emphasized the lack of a hierarchical system with the choreography and rehearsal process.

“Choreographers do teach the dance, but it’s very collaborative, in that students can give in their input,” Ratna said. “There’s no sort of structure that [says] ‘This is how it has to be.’ … Seniors can become best friends with freshmen.”

Planning for the show actually began in November, when Claremont Tamasha started brainstorming ideas to uphold the tradition of having a dramatic storyline interwoven into the show.

“If someone just went to a show [of] just performances, there’s no flow. So, we tried to create a storyline to connect everything, just to make it fun for the audience,” Shah said.

Each college also organized their own dance. Though Pitzer College’s dance was noticeably missing from this year’s lineup, it turned out that the Pitzer dancers had simply collaborated with the dancers from Pomona to perform one piece together.

Claremont dance groups Groove Nation and Pangea also performed at the show, providing the show with a hip and modern twist that was refreshing to watch.

Because the show was free, marketing was integral to the success of the show. Trailers that were posted on the Claremont Tamasha Facebook page featured rehearsals, clips of dance sequences, and sneak peaks of the love triangle.

Sanskriti has also steadily gained popularity within the 5Cs over recent years, and Ratna attributes this to people’s growing interest in South Asian culture.

“India as a country itself is so diverse,” Ratna said. “There’s always this intrigue about the different cultures and diversities that India holds. I think that makes people so interested and intrigued as to what Sanskriti really is.”

Appreciation of diversity and culture is inherent in the show. Performers — South Asians and non-South Asians alike — all brought out an exciting energy that was intensified by the lively music and vibrant lighting.

Each impeccably executed performance garnered an uproar of applause with audience members cheering for their friends to come back onstage.

It was as if the community itself was shining. The hugs and heartfelt words shared at the end of show to send off seniors in the Sanskriti community was especially touching.

Claremont Tamasha hopes to continue making Sanskriti fun and enjoyable for both performers and audiences.

“We just want to make it better every year and more inclusive every year, and encourage as much participation as we can get,” Ratna said. “Because at the end of the day, we want people to have fun.”

Students from across The Claremont Colleges recently took part in Sanskriti, a celebration of South Asian culture. (Chloe Ortiz • The Student Life)

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