By Will Gorman, Staff Writer
When the lights onstage went down, the tea lights in their hands turned on.
The girls in flowing, colorful dresses already had their chance to dance. This particular routine was for the illuminated dots in their hands. The only sources of luminescence in the entire theater appeared to be floating, dancing around the stage before being flung toward the front in a chilling ending to a unique visual saga.
This was just one of the many segments of Miami’s Indian Student Association’s annual performance to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Diwali symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and commemorates the Hindu New Year, honoring the Hindu God, Ram, returning from exile. Celebratory lights are hung, candles are placed all around the home, meals are eaten with family and more.
This past Friday and Saturday in Hall Auditorium, the ISA’s celebration kicked off with a welcome speech from the ISA’s president, Ashka Patel.
“These people have been working pretty much since last May,” Patel said, praising the ISA’s dancers and choreographers. “They’ve been working on dances all summer up until now. A lot of work has gone into this.”
Following Patel’s speech, the ISA presented a few videos covering topics such as Diwali itself, Indian stereotypes here at Miami and quick profiles of prominent members of the ISA. Priya Mehra, a junior in her third year performing at Diwali with the ISA, cited this as one of her favorite moments of the show.
“I like showcasing what Diwali is to the audience,” Mehra said. “This is our way to showcase our festival.”
The performance portion of the show featured a wide array of different styles of traditional Indian dance. In between these dance numbers, a handful of performers acted out scenes depicting the tale of “Ladies vs. Karan Shah.”
“It’s exhilarating,” Mehra said. “This is my third year doing it, and I still love it.”
The show’s overarching storyline was that of a con man, Karan Shah, tricking girls across India into giving him something of value before he leaves their lives for what he thinks will be forever. Whether it’s driving away with one girl’s car or leaving another at the altar on their supposed wedding day and running off with the dowry, Karan Shah seems to be getting away with everything.
Eventually, the three women conned by Karan Shah enlist the help of a woman willing to con him back, and the stolen items are returned once Karan Shah realizes he has met his match.
The show also featured multiple guest acts. One was a performance by Nishaana, Miami’s Bollywood fusion dance team. Nishaana’s performance told its own tale – dressed as Wonder Woman, one girl embarked on a quest to save her sister, who had been kidnapped by villains Doctor Cyber and Doctor Poison.
This was not complete without fast-paced dance routines to songs such as “Power” by Kanye West and “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie. Some (such as the aforementioned two) were in English, while others were in Indian languages.
Nishaana wasn’t the only group to perform Bollywood dances; one of the segments of the show featured the ISA’s dancers performing Bollywood-style routines to Hindi songs, English songs (including Shakira’s hit “Hips Don’t Lie”) and more.
“My Big choreographed [the Bollywood dance], so it was really cool to watch something she made come together,” Mira, an audience member, said. “The whole show was good. It was fun to watch.”
The ISA will celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, this spring in central quad.