Monthly Archives: October 2015

Upcoming On Campus Performance

Upcoming On Campus Performance

Every year on New Moon Day either in September, October, or November, depending on how the lunar calendar falls, there is a very auspicious Indian holiday that takes place. Many of you may have heard it described as the Festival of Lights, but the more formal name is Diwali. While Diwali has a religious background that welcomes back the form of God that is portrayed as the true model of perfection and is the turning point of the seasons once the monsoon ends, it also has a more philosophical meaning. The candles lit on Diwali signify the removal of darkness and ignorance and in return the gathering of light and knowledge. The lamps that are lit symbolize the physical and spiritual aspects of light as we gather as a society and work towards the removal of darkness within us. On this holiday, families get together and give each other presents, wear new clothes, and make delicious food, which is basically the equivalent of Christmas in most other parts of the world. During this time of year many festivities take place that involve spending quality time with the family and while college students cannot go home this year for Diwali since it falls on November 11th which is a Wednesday, Penn State is making up for it in a different way.

The student organization, SASA, which stands for South Asian Student Association, is hosting a Diwali show here on campus at Alumni Hall at the HUB, where all of South Asian dance teams will be performing. The dance team I am a part of, Penn State Natya, which is the Indian classical team, will be performing along with Jadhoom, the fusion team, De Sher, the bhangra team, Ghaamudyaz, the raas team, and Penn State Fanaa, the Indian acapella group. All of the dance styles that are being performed originate from different parts of India and during this holiday we all come together and celebrate as one. We unite not just through our passion for dance and Indian culture, but also through this festive holiday through which we work towards the betterment of ourselves for the year to come. The largest South Asian organization on campus hosts an event such as this one every year and luckily this year the Diwali show falls on the actual date of the holiday, so that we can all celebrate together as a different kind of family. All of these dance teams will be performing their pieces to celebrate a new beginning, as the day after Diwali is the Gujrati New Year. Thus, as this holiday passes many Indians will be working towards their New Year resolutions around the world.

The dance teams and the acapella group will be putting on a show from 9:30 to 11 and in between there will be festivities taking place such as the lighting of fireworks and candles. Setting off fireworks is a huge part of the celebration so hopefully in order to continue the tradition SASA will be providing us with fireworks at Penn State as well. Ultimately, this will be one of the major on campus performances done by all the South Asian dance teams so I highly recommend that you check it out as I definitely think it will be a fun time. Hope to see you all there!

Influence of Music on Dance

Influence of Music on Dance

Have you ever heard a song on the radio and just felt the sudden urge to get up and dance? I have that feeling more often than not and just recently realized the impact music has on dance, as it would not even exist if it were not for the music that goes along with it. Dance needs music to set the mood, drop the beat, and create the motivation needed to start moving. Music has that ability to make us feel a certain way, which is why it plays such an immense role in dance. Different styles of music create various types of beats, which all correspond to a specific dance style. While some dances can be performed to any kind of music, there is always a typical genre that it matches with. For example, slower tunes would be utilized when performing dance styles such as the waltz, lyrical, or ballet, while fast, upbeat songs would be used for hip-hop, tap dancing, or the salsa. Although it can be argued otherwise, the traditional version of each of these dance styles respectively corresponds to either slow or fast music.

It is often hard to realize the importance of music in everyday life, however music plays a very integral role in daily activities. Most people usually listen to music when working out, driving, or sometimes even while working on assignments as it creates a fun and lively atmosphere in everything that we do. Music sets the mood and is often in line with our emotions as we all can recognize its role in the theatrics of movies, musicals, and dramas. A relatable instance of the way music affects us all would be in terms of productivity level as we blog every Thursday during class. Our fingers naturally type faster as the beats increase in speed when we listen to the instrumental music in the background. Even though it may seem like an insignificant background noise, it plays a much bigger role on our productivity than expected. Similarly, the beats in music give off a vibe that transcends into the movement of the body without it ever giving off a striking epiphany of the strong impact that it can have.

Furthermore, the lyrics of a song can be portrayed through dance just further enhancing the relationship they share. A song in itself can evoke so many emotions through its lyrics, but when combined with dance the impact it leaves can last a lifetime. There have been many such instances where I have seen dances that I will remember for the rest of my life and the most important reason why is because of the music choice. When dramatic music is conjoined with intricate movement, the aesthetic qualities and awe inspiring way it is depicted is one of the best things I have had the privilege to watch. The movements go in sync with the speed of the music and the melody combined with the footwork can definitely be classified as a work of art.

The Art of Performing

The Art of Performing

While I have spoken about dancing and performing numerous times before, I have never touched upon the vast differentiation between the feeling that comes from dancing at practice to finally performing on stage. Most dance academies have about two performances at different locations every year and often times they have an annual show within the academy itself. My dance academy started off small, however, so we only had performances with other dance academies, but never solely our own until very recently. Growing up performing in front of a crowd, regardless of who they might be, has allowed me to feel a rush like no other and I would like to describe this feeling to you to the best of my ability.

From the first performance until the last, I will always love the way performances make me feel. While initially the tension can be nerve-wracking and the numerous people in the crowd watching your every move can be very stressful, the feeling during the performance and afterwards is what makes it so worthwhile. This quote by Wayne Dyer sums up perfectly the reason why I love performing so much: “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” The adrenaline flowing as the team transcends from one move to another in complete coordination to the beats of the music creates the most indescribably amazing feeling. It is the feeling of unity, teamwork, and grace. From the sudden burst of adrenaline that starts flowing the minute the music starts to play to the split second after that when in one synchronized movement all the dancers come to life, is the true essence of a performance. The aesthetic qualities of a performance are what make them enjoyable for the audience, but the motives with which the performers all showcase their skills come together in one unified unit as the lights dim and the music begins. As I previously mentioned, performances can be very intimidating, however, when I perform with my team, I know I am not alone. We all rise and fall together and knowing that we will be there to encourage and inspire each other is what makes these experiences as memorable as they are. Furthermore, after the performance there is an immense sense of fulfillment as all the hours of practices and rehearsals have officially paid off. When the performance ends and the audience break out into a deafening applause the performers can finally acknowledge that the hard work has been worthwhile. The soreness, sweat, and possibly even tears has created something beautiful not just to see, but also to perform.

Although my description could never completely describe the true feelings evoked during and after a performance, for those who have never experienced it before, it is similar to any accomplishment made by a team of any kind. It is the feeling received when you know that you have earned your right to the top as you replay that memory in your head over and over again with a sense of pure gratification.

Dancing to Give Back

Dancing to Give Back

I am sure all of you have heard about THON as current Penn Staters and a lot of you are probably even on a THON committee. This is just one of the many amazing ways dance enables us to give back to those who need it most. Dancing is a great way to raise money for different organizations all serving well deserved causes. Just as THON raises money for children with cancer, dance performances are held around the world with international dancers going from one place to another raising money for various causes.

I have grown up surrounded with dancers in a performance environment and many performances I have seen have raised money for different causes. For example, a few girls from a neighboring dance academy held a show raising money for Down syndrome and another for autism. In addition to the performances done by others, I have also been fortunate enough to participate in such an event myself. As mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago, I gave my Arangetram (three hour solo graduation performance) at the age of thirteen and it is normally a common courtesy to bring gifts for the performer. However, instead of gifts, I asked the guests to donate to the charity organization AIM for Seva, which stands for All India Movement for Seva or contribution, and together, we raised $5000. It was the most fulfilling feeling in the world knowing that the selflessness expressed by the audience could create such a powerful impact on those living in such harsh and destitute environments. Similarly, five of my other friends also gave their Arangetrams that summer and each of them raised money for different charity organizations. We all were dancing not only for the audience and ourselves, but also for a cause that could leave a lasting impact on those around the world.

There are also performances held across America that my family and I attend every year executed by dancers from India who tour nationwide raising money for AIM for Seva wherever they go. There are about twenty to twenty five shows in numerous locations and while the tickets are free there is a different kind of payment involved. Every attendee has the choice to either donate or just come for entertainment purposes, however, as the performers are professionals their performances are outstanding most people in the audience donate money for this wonderful cause and are also awe-inspired by the moving performances and thus, get the best of both worlds.

After being part of these types of shows since my childhood I am so thankful to be able to continue this legacy here at Penn State. The dance teams I am involved in enable me to perform at THON and I could not be happier to be part of such a momentous experience. The exhilaration of dance comes not only from the adrenaline rush, but also from the cause one is dancing for. Although not every performance will have these kinds of purposes, I encourage everyone to involve themselves in THON and other organizations because everyone deserves to feel the fulfillment involved with dancing to give back.

Dance Around the World

Dance Around the World

            Dance has been used as a form of expression for thousands of years around the world and each region of the world has a type of dance that separates them from the rest. However, when we look at the bigger picture, these variations also serve as a form of unity as all dancers can agree upon the liberating feeling that it gives. From the salsa to ballet there are numerous countries that have a specialized discipline in the art form of dance.

Out of the numerous regions and countries in the world, one of the places I am most familiar with when it comes to dance is Latin America. This region has many types of dances each with their own style of music and steps. Latin America has a vast variety of dance styles that all are related, yet can be distinguished as their own individual styles as well. For example, the salsa is composed of a combination of various other Latin American dance styles such as the cha cha, the mambo, and the rhumba, yet each of these subgroups of dance can be identified as their own with their own personal identity in the world of dance. The merengue and samba also originate from Latin America and serve as a lively and fun style of dance. In addition, the paso doble, which is modeled after the environment and sound involved with a Spanish bullfight is a renowned dance style learned by professional dancers around the world.

On the other hand, although India is only one country and Latin America consists of many countries, the dance styles in India all vary drastically from one to another. Each geographic region of India has its own cultural dance that distinguishes itself from the rest and each dance style has its own specialized types of music, costumes, and flow, or sometime lack thereof. For example, the dance style from my last blog, Bharatnatyam, consists of intricate costumes and makeup and the steps are done with precision and grace, whereas Bollywood has much more flow and is much more casual in its costume choice. Furthermore, dance styles like bhangra, kathak, and garba all have their own specialized music depending on the region of the country. North Indian dances tend to focus more on an upbeat style like bhangra with loud and energetic music, while South Indian dances, like kathak, tend to focus on stricter movements, and generally have a more classical edge. Centrally, the region of Gujrat, where my family is from, garba is the regional dance style and every year for a week straight, groups of people gather together and create intricate steps to fast-paced music in celebration of the holidays.

Overall, there are diverse styles of dance everywhere we go, and it is fascinating to see the way different regions of the world can incorporate dance into their lives as a mode of expression. Although I only focused on Latin America and India for this week’s blog, I am sure there are many other scenarios of dance styles and their respective variations around the world.