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Annual SASA show promotes South Asian culture through satire of American reality show

Members+of+Northwestern+Nithya%2C+a+classical+Indian+dance+ensemble%2C+perform+in+last+year%E2%80%99s+South+Asian+Students+Alliance+show.+The+2017+SASA+show+will+take+place+on+Saturday+at+7p.m.+in+Cahn+Auditorium.+
Members of Northwestern Nithya, a classical Indian dance ensemble, perform in last year’s South Asian Students Alliance show. The 2017 SASA show will take place on Saturday at 7p.m. in Cahn Auditorium.

Members of Northwestern Nithya, a classical Indian dance ensemble, perform in last year’s South Asian Students Alliance show. The 2017 SASA show will take place on Saturday at 7p.m. in Cahn Auditorium.

Source: Shaan Sonani

Source: Shaan Sonani

Members of Northwestern Nithya, a classical Indian dance ensemble, perform in last year’s South Asian Students Alliance show. The 2017 SASA show will take place on Saturday at 7p.m. in Cahn Auditorium.

Rachel Hawley, Reporter

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This year’s South Asian Student Alliance showcase, “Keeping up with the Kapoors,” will bring a combination of Hollywood and Bollywood to Cahn Auditorium.

Several student groups will take the stage on Saturday night to promote South Asian culture through dance and musical performances. The annual show’s theme is part of a long-standing tradition, said SASA co-president Shaan Somani.

“Every year, the SASA show has a general theme, which is usually a sort of satirical twist on something in pop culture,” the Weinberg senior said. “A common idea that we came up with was (satirizing) a reality TV show, and this whole ‘famous for being famous’ idea. … we thought that the concept would be relatable to people.”

The show will feature various student dance groups, each of which focuses on a different region or genre of Indian dance. Ensembles include Northwestern Nithya, a classical Indian dance ensemble, Northwestern Bhangra, which performs dance from the Punjab region, and Deeva Dance Troupe, an all-female group whose performances feature a fusion of Bollywood and Western styles such as hip-hop.

Medill senior Gauri Rangrass, one of the show’s four emcees, said the event aims to highlight South Asian culture.

“Sometimes there’s a gap in understanding of South Asian culture around campus, so this is a great opportunity,” Rangrass said.

The show will also include a performance by Brown Sugar, Northwestern’s South Asian a cappella group.

“We focus on South Asian music, so Bollywood primarily, as well as other genres popular in South Asia,” said Bienen and Weinberg sophomore Charlie Collar, the music director of Brown Sugar. “We don’t sing a lot of songs exclusively in Hindi. We do a lot of mash-ups and songs that incorporate South Asian music into other kinds of American music.”

Somani said the attendance and campus-wide visibility of the SASA Show has increased over the last several years. He said this is a result of a rise in the number of Indian and South Asian students on campus and the close-knit nature of the community.

The show is a central event for the South Asian student community, said SASA and Northwestern Nithya member Rachana Kolli, a Weinberg sophomore. The evening allows students to meet others with similar experiences and enjoy South Asian food, traditions and pop culture, Kolli said.

Somani said South Asian students are often subjected to the “model minority myth,” but having a strong community help alleviate the effects of that.

“People expect certain things based upon our skin color,” Somani said. “It’s great to have a strong Indian community because it allows you to connect with people with a common background (and) common experiences.”

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