Image provided by Prizm Captures. Top: A classical dance performance from Dil Se 2019.
As winter comes to a close, South Asian culture springs into action. Bay Area high schools have been trying to recapture the grandeur of Bollywood movies and songs in special showcases like Irvington’s Dil Se and Presentation High School’s Deewane, featuring performances from various cultural dance teams, including Washington High’s Taal.
Irvington High School’s IndoPak, the brain behind the successes of Dil Se, is one of many student-run organizations that makes such festivities possible today. Irvington junior and IndoPak officer Manya Srivastav enlightens us with exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of how such shows materialize.
On choosing the performers for these shows, she says, “When it comes to making these shows a memorable experience, we look for the teams that have a ‘wow’ factor to them.” With over 30 Bay Area teams submitting video auditions for a spot in the show’s lineup, the teams were evaluated on the basis of 5 different categories: cleanliness, energy, complexity and creativity, positions and transitioning, and ‘wow’ factor. After the top 20 teams were selected to perform in the show, the officers held video check-ins to ensure that the teams made constant progress on their five-minute routines. Manya elaborates: “We didn’t want them to let us know right before the show if things were going wrong with their pieces, so that they at least have a few weeks to fix any problems with their routine.” When it comes to shows of this scale, last-minute decision-making and changes can cause unnecessary stress, so the officers prioritize communicating with their performers ahead of time.
As the teams get ready to shine on stage, officers work on making this an exciting environment for the performers and the audience. “We are planning to have small business booths to interact with the audience,” says Manya. “And also a fashion show during intermission, which should be sort of stress relieving for dancers and officers so they can just dress up and have fun.” Besides the social accommodations for this event, the officers will continue to abide by the necessary health protocols. To contain the spread of COVID during the show, proof of vaccination and a negative test result will be required prior to entering the premises. All dancers will also be required to wear wrist bands so that only performers are allowed backstage.
Still, the most critical step in this process is to finalize show logistics. “Initially, we planned Dil Se with it being sort of up in the air,” Manya explains. “It wasn’t clear what exact day it would be on, but we had a general idea of it being around January or February.” With new strains emerging every few months, the officers banked on these uncertainties to play out in their favor. As it turned out, the show was postponed due to the omicron outbreak and multiple venues were also under consideration to account for safer health protocols. Following weeks of back-and-forth communication between officers, the principal, and club advisors deciding the dates and venues available for the show, they finally decided that Dil Se will be held on February 12th at the Valhalla Theater in Irvington High School.
Even with the backdrop of the omicron strain raising health concerns in various school districts, it is a monumental feat to continue organizing such productions to celebrate the diversity of our Bay Area community. With the stage set for one of the grandest spectacles in the South Asian high school community, we can only wait to see what our fellow students have in store for us.
Shaunak Roy is a senior at Washington High School. Having spent the first ten years of his life amidst the tightly-knit neighborhoods of India, Shaunak continues his passion for communal activities by playing gully cricket with his friends and participating in dance teams in the States. As a first-year member of The Hatchet, he strives to interview students at his school and report their unique stories, while occasionally reviewing horrible Bollywood movies for the mere fun of it. Besides being randomly interested in watching chess videos and singing in video calls with his sister, Shaunak has developed a strong passion for physics and engineering over the past few years of high school, which he plans to further explore in college.