SASA hosts its annual production featuring South Asian performance groups


Photo courtesy of Sean Su

The junior class dance at the South Asian Students Alliance Show.

Katherine McDonnell, Reporter

The South Asian Students Alliance hosted its annual show featuring South Asian dance, a cappella and comedy acts Saturday at Cahn Auditorium.

SASA Co-President and Weinberg junior Simrun Varshney said the show offers South Asian students at Northwestern the opportunity to come together to celebrate shared culture.

“Being able to have my culture represented on campus and have events where I know there are other people who understand my culture and understand me is really cool,” Varshney said. “It feels comforting.”

The annual production was virtual last year due to COVID-19, so Varshney said she was especially excited to see performers on stage together again.

A variety of groups came to perform, including Brown Sugar a cappella, NU Bhangra, NU Raas, NU Deeva and NU Ahana Dance Project. Audience members had the opportunity to nominate friends for awards such as “most spirited” or “cutest couple” by donating to SASA’s fundraiser for Pratham, a nonprofit organization based in India that provides children with affordable education.

Weinberg junior Richa Shah is co-captain of NU Bhangra, which performs traditional Punjabi dance at competitions nationwide. She said the SASA show was an exciting opportunity for performers to showcase their talents.

“We individually compete, especially the dance teams, but we never really get to see each other dance, or we never get to really support one another’s performance as much, just because we don’t have a central meeting place,” Shah said. “It’s really just exciting to see what the other teams are putting out and what their year has been looking like.”

McCormick freshman Sahaana Rajesh said finding a community of fellow South Asian students to share and celebrate her culture with was enjoyable as it allowed her to express different parts of her identity.

Doing theater throughout high school, Rajesh said joining Bhangra was a way for her to maintain her hobbies despite them not being her major.

“I loved dancing and performing, and I especially loved that it was Indian style dancing. Coming from a fairly white town, I didn’t have many Indian friends, so it’s been really great to be part of SASA and get more involved in Indian culture,” Rajesh said.

Rajesh said performing as part of NU Bhangra was rewarding but the opportunity for each class of students to perform their own class dance offered creative freedom and expression for her and fellow first-year students.

The class dances, some accompanied with videos like the senior farewell montage for seniors, offered students the opportunity to meet new members from their class beyond their own groups.

Rajesh added that the celebrational, comedic and light-hearted feeling of the night felt amazing for both performers and audience members alike. Some attendees brought signs to support their friends on stage, while others brought flowers and gifts to give after the show.

Weinberg freshman Katie Sandhu said seeing her friends perform was a highlight of the night, but she also enjoyed learning about new groups through their performances.

“It’s fun seeing everyone come out with their friends and come out to support,” Sandhu said. “I’m not used to having such a warm celebration of South Asian and Indian culture, so it’s really nice to have.”

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Twitter: @KatherineMcD33

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