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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SASA showcases annual Mela show with ‘Junoon: The Power of Passion’

Published: December 4, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc., Featured

The South Asian Student Association’s (SASA) annual Mela show, this year named “Junoon: The Power of Passion,” occurred on Nov. 22 in Levin Ballroom. The emcees announced that there were over 150 performers, which is more than they have ever had. At least 700 people were in the audience in Levin.

The opening of the show was a little awkward. While three emcees had good chemistry, a lot of their dialogue was forced and detracted a bit from the performances. However, the executive board had a very nicely choreographed dance that started the night off on a high note.

The performers in Laasya, an Indian dance ensemble at Brandeis, were the first of the groups to perform. Their routine was very well organized and upbeat. Next up was Stop Motion, a hip-hop dance troupe, whose most memorable skills were break dancing and the use of comedy. The first-year dance was entertaining, and continued the show at the same pace as the other routines.

The fashion show was cute, and the dresses were beautiful, but it could have been a lot shorter. The rest of the show was very high energy until this point, and the fashion show brought it to a grinding halt. It did help slow down the pace a little for the next act, however, which was a spoken word piece performed by Rohan Narayanan ’15.

Narayanan introduced himself as a fairly new slam poet who had started writing last semester. For Mela, he performed the first poem he had ever written. The poem was very well composed, although the performance was a little lackluster. He was clearly nervous, and consequently he was sometimes hard to understand because he did not enunciate clearly, often spoke too quickly and mostly spoke in a monotone. He redeemed himself when he built to a crescendo to end.

The dance performed by the sophomores was very well choreographed and was executed with a lot of enthusiasm, but was occasionally sloppy. Overall though, it was a very enjoyable piece. The belly dancers went next, and were good as usual. They have had better performances, though, and the solo section was a little too long. However, their usual charisma, gorgeous costumes and unbeatable skills made for an entertaining performance. Next, we took a pause to learn about a sponsored charity, Asha for Education, which aims to bring education to all Indian children. This slowed down the performance a bit, but was very clean and put together.

At the end of the first act, Chak De, a Bollywood-fusion dance team, showcased their talents. Chak De played a video of a fight between their two choreographers that ended in a “Freaky Friday”-like switch of their bodies, creating the storyline for their piece. Chak De ended the act on a great note, pumping up the crowd for the next act with their high energy blend of Bollywood and American dance styles and spot-on performance.

The second act was slightly more successful than the first act, and definitely held its own after a long intermission. The group MASTI from Boston College performed first and started the act with a bang. Their choreography was performed perfectly in sync. Their costumes were eye-catching and looked great on stage. They had very smooth formation changes and successfully used American songs in their piece in a way that was fun but not distracting.

So Unique, Brandeis’ step team, was equally entertaining. The content was funny, the dancers were perfect together and precise, and they made the audience laugh by making fun of each other in a non-offensive way.

The dance performed by the juniors was fun, but the amount of people on stage made it a bit confusing at times. The juniors choreographed separate boys and girls dances that were especially successful, and their enthusiasm and commitment shined through for the entire piece.

The graduate student dance was also high energy. All of the performers smiled the entire time, which made their piece more enjoyable to watch. Their dance was a little messy but very well choreographed, with more Americanized moves than some of the other pieces, plus they changed outfits halfway through, which was well executed.

After this, the show slowed down a bit for a spoken word piece by Naman Patel ’16. His poem was well written, well performed and gave a very profound message.

The STUDS went next, a group of boys who did a comedic dance performance. They started off with a film, with which they had some technical difficulties. Once they got it working though it was pretty funny. The choreography was very random but cute, and the boys did a very good job executing it. This was definitely one of the funniest pieces in the show.

Bhangra performed a precise, virtually flawless piece as usual. Next were two singers, who were very talented but made a poor song choice. The song took too long to build up and did not get the audience pumped up at all. The seniors went last and performed a very nicely choreographed piece. Emotions definitely ran high as these seniors were performing at their last Mela show.

Overall, this year’s Mela show was incredibly fun due to the passion of the performers and their choreographers and directors. Everyone involved in this show should be proud of their hard work, and I hope to see an equally strong performance from SASA next year.