India Night 2009 overcomes obstacles

By Emily Herbick

Indian culture was celebrated through the array of colorful garb, traditional dancing, song and drama presented at India Night 2009 Saturday at Foellinger Auditorium.

Ten acts included singing, percussion, competitive dancing, sketch comedy and a fashion show.

Shouts and cheers could be heard from friends and family during every act.

Vaish Shastry, internal vice-president of the Indian Student Association and junior in Business, said this year’s audience was “electric.”

“I heard mixed reviews, but overall it was a very different show than past years,” she said. “The show order was very different. I think the quality of acts was beyond past years. I was very happy with the quality of our acts.”

Throughout the show, there were minor technical difficulties with videos projected on stage and microphones, which caused brief delays, said Neal Dodia, president of the Indian Student Association and senior in LAS.

The largest setback came after intermission when the competitive dance team I-Bhangra was performing. The team, dressed in colorful orange and white Indian attire, was doing a stunt in which the women stood on top of the men’s shoulders.

During the stunt, one performer, Seema Shah, senior in LAS, fell off her partner’s shoulders hitting her shoulder and head on the stage. She lay motionless on the ground while the team stood around her.

Atina D’Souza, cultural chair of the Indian Student Association, came on stage and told the audience that there would be another brief intermission while Shah was looked at.

Foellinger staff sectioned off part of the stage so emergency personnel could enter and take Shah off the stage in a stretcher, according to Joseph Ramski, Foellinger staff member.

Shah was sent to Carle Foundation Hospital. She was released the same night with a head injury, according to Ashley Varakalayil, coordinator of I-Bhangra and junior in AHS.

Dodia said Shah is fine and was sent to the hospital as a precaution.

He said I-Bhangra is not an amateur team and they commonly perform stunts, so there always is a sense of danger.

“We thought everything would run seamlessly because we have done so many rehearsals at Foellinger,” he said. “Inevitably there’s that element you can’t control.”

Despite these set-backs, the show continued on.

“It was a testament to the coordinator, how professional they are and their ability to overcome obstacles,” Dodia said.

India Night drew a large audience of about 1,200 to 1,300 people, Shastry said.

Jessica Zajdel, senior in LAS, attended India Night 2009 for the first time this year to support her friend who performed with the dance team Fizaa.

“It’s different than anything I’ve seen in a while, but it’s really good,” Zajdel said.

Amy Thompson, senior in LAS, also attended to support one of her friends.

“I really enjoyed RaasMasters,” Thompson said. “I really liked the pretty colors and the rhythm. I liked the way they danced.