Arts, On Campus

SASA Culture Show Gets Creative With Vibrant Performances

The South Asian Student Association (SASA) held its annual culture show on Saturday evening at Robsham Theater. The theme was Shaadi Mubarak, a Hindi greeting that translates to “Happy Marriage.” The striking costumes, lively music, and outstanding choreography throughout the evening reflected the grandeur of its theme.

For the occasion, the entrance to the Robsham auditorium was decorated with long garlands of marigolds, typically seen in celebratory South Asian events. A large crowd made of parents, friends, and students packed Robsham for the celebratory event, and after every single performance, a cacophony of applause and cheers resounded through the auditorium.

Before the evening kicked off, the audience was introduced to its two co-hosts, Sahil Saoji, MCAS ’25, and Manav Botadra, MCAS ’25. Their wit, charisma, and comedic timing kept the audience engaged, as they navigated through the components of their idyllic South Asian wedding.

The show began with an energetic performance by Masti, setting the evening off with a brilliant start. Masti mastered the impressive jumps and complex formations that made up its choreography. Not only did the group appear synchronized and sleek through its dancing, but through its uniform costumes, which were black hoodies with “Masti” emblazoned on the front in colorful letters. The group’s unison and skill come as no surprise, however, with Masti winning last year’s ALC Showdown

After such a lively number, the audience was mellowed by the entrancing notes of Sancia Sehdev, MCAS ’25, and Meena Menon, MCAS ’25, who performed a medley of songs.  Their ethereal vocal harmonies were accompanied by the sonorous notes of Amoggrajat Venkat’s, LSEHD ’26, violin. With clearly flowing voices and the steady pace of the violin, the ensemble created sparkling musical colors, which were complemented wonderfully by the trio’s traditional costumes. The melodically rich piece ended delicately, and after a moment of reflective silence, was rewarded with a roar of applause.

Following the absorbing number, a trio of actresses in traditional outfits took the stage, playing the role of the conniving “South Asian aunties.” The trio’s skit made amusing references to iconic lines from the original Mean Girls movie, their haughtiness and superiority identical to that of the Plastics, which invited enthusiastic reactions from the audience. The sketch not only served as a light-hearted pause in the evening’s repertoire, but also as an introduction to Shastriya Nritya, or in English, the classical dance.

The classical dance was prefaced by an educational video that expressed its significance, as well as its provenance. When the lights came up, flashes of gold and pink from costumes accompanied by the chiming of ankle bells enhanced the beautiful silhouettes and formations choreographed by Angana Saha, MCAS ’24, Kalaimagal Nesarajah, MCAS ’25, and Trishna Condoor, MCAS ’27. 

Later, after a brief pause to recognize Saheli, the Boston-based charity the evening’s proceeds were donated to, it was time for the freshman dance, followed by the sophomore dance. The freshmen of SASA were cool in their streetwear outfits, dancing in time to a mashup of South Asian and Western tunes such as “Gallan Goodiyaan” and “Taki Taki,” while the sophomore members of SASA, with clever footwork, performed a nimble trick with sunglasses that had the audience erupting in cheers.

The audience, still buzzing about the sophomore and freshman dances, were then charmed by the SASA Fashion Show. In pairs or trios, graduating members of SASA showed off their very best traditional South Asian outfits in a variety of colorful lehengas, sarees, and kurtas. 

The second musical performance of the evening was the Carnatic ensemble. The culture show program defines Carnatic music as devotional and traditionally performed in places of worship, which this piece most certainly conveyed. The trio of singers paced themselves steadily, taking turns to sing lilting melodies while a violin and sitar provided harmonious backing, altogether creating a heavenly rendition.

It was right back to action when the Carnatic piece concluded, with the Bachelor Party dance storming the stage. They too were introduced by a video, which, accompanied by Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” conveyed the spontaneity and chaos of a bachelor’s night. 

The actual dance, however, was anything but chaos. Despite the stage being somewhat crowded, the large group managed to keep in time with one another, making astonishing jumps and tricks which seemingly required a great amount of energy and practice. Judging by the loud cheers, the Bachelor’s dance was perhaps one of the audience’s—largely made up of students—favorite part of the evening. 

After a captivating “Komola Sundori” dance performance and a Bhangra dance number, the show was topped off by the juniors dance, followed by the e-board dance.

Then, e-board members recognized choreographers and praised the hosts of the event. The audience was delighted to learn one more dance remained. SASA’s seniors took to the stage to resounding cheers and applause, as the group screened a nostalgic video showing the seniors’ participation in the annual Culture Show over previous years. Their dance served as a beautiful act of farewell, and their dedication to the piece was evident through their good timing and assured expressions.

Overall, the 26th Annual Culture Show, coordinated by Alyssa Santos, LSEHD ’25, and Sriya Jampana, CSOM ’26, was a spectacular and enigmatic evening that educated the audience at Robsham on the special traditions that make up South Asian culture artistically. 

February 18, 2024