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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, October 2, 2023

TASA's Culture Show celebrates South Asian culture with a night of performance

Tufts Bhangra, the final performers of TASA's C-Show, is pictured.

The Tufts Association of South Asians held their annual Culture Show last weekend in Cohen Auditorium. The event, also known as the “C-Show,” is a showcase of South Asian dance, music and comedy that brings together a wide variety of student groups from across campus. At this year’s show, nearly 200 students performed to a packed audience in Cohen on Saturday night.

The C-Show is a major undertaking that involves months of work on the part of TASA’s executive board. Junior Malhar Narain, the co-president of TASA, emphasized the amount of organization that went into this year’s C-Show in the months leading up to the performance. TASA’s executive board is split up into several groups, including a public relations team, a social team and an events team. As head of the events team, Narain was responsible for making sure everything went smoothly on Saturday.

“My events team [plans] everything: … what the theme should be, when it comes to writing the script for the hosts to actually perform, our events team does that,” Narain said. “As president, I think it’s a lot of realizing what the different tasks are, creating a huge list of tasks and then trying to delegate them as efficiently as possible.”

Preparations begin as early as December with the selection of a theme, followed by months of planning with the various student groups involved. According to Narain, the theme of this year’s show, “Nightmare on Desi Street,” was chosen to poke fun at the everyday challenges that South Asians face.

“I think this theme fit in really well because everyone had a lot of ideas about jokes that we could make. … A lot of them were about misconceptions or stereotypes, or things that happen a lot in the South Asian community, … like your parents wanting you to be a doctor or an engineer, or only eating South Asian food,” Narain said. “Those are a lot of things that people across all South Asian cultures have in common, so doing something like ‘Nightmare on Desi Street,’ we tried to incorporate a horror aspect to it.” 

This theme was integrated throughout the show as the emcees entertained the audience with comedy skits that dramatized the stresses of South Asian life, like the pressure to get good grades or awkward conversations with parents. The highlight of the night, however, was the wide range of South Asian dance groups that brought their talents to the C-Show. Audience members saw a lively performance from JumboRaas, a dance team that combines the traditional Indian dance styles of Raas and Garba with elements of modern dance. Tufts Pulse, a dance team specializing in South Indian classical dance, told the story of the Hindu goddess Maa Kali through its graceful performance. Tufts Tamasha, an Indian-fusion dance ensemble, gave an energetic performance that blended traditional styles like Kathak and Bollywood with Western music and dance.

The C-Show also featured a solo performance from sophomore Ananya Gita, who presented a beautiful kathak dance piece called Chaturang. The show also contained two Bhangra performances. The show’s second act began with Open Bhangra, a group made up of the Bhangra team’s newest members, who choreographed an original dance and recruited a team to perform with them. The final performance of the night was Tufts Bhangra, who lit up the stage with rainbow-colored outfits and hinged wooden instruments known as sapps.

In addition to the four South Asian dance teams that brought their talents to the stage, the show featured a performance from BlackOut, Tufts’ all-male step team. Narain expressed her excitement about working with the team, who will be competing at the World of Dance finals in California in August.

“We know a lot of the audience members aren’t South Asian, so we want the show to have something for everyone to enjoy,” Narain said. “We’re really excited for the BlackOut performance.” 

During the intermission, audience members were encouraged to make donations, which were given to two charitable causes selected by TASA in collaboration with Tufts South Asian Political Action Committee. Half of the funds raised went to assisting the Tufts Arab Students Association in their efforts to support earthquake victims in Syria, while the other half went to Kalama Mutual Aid, a group that seeks to counteract economic inequality by redistributing funds to marginalized communities. 

In addition to the organized dance groups at the C-Show, the TASA executive board kicked off the show with its own performance, and members of TASA from each class year came together to create their own dances. Narain explained that the four classwide dances are a great, low-stakes way for South Asian students to meet their classmates and express themselves onstage.

“[It’s] a way for the classes to come together, meet people in your year that you haven’t really met, and just have fun, you don’t have to be good at dancing,” Narain said. “It’s all about having fun.”