Students prepare for annual Bombay in the Bay performance

January 31, 2018 — by Annissa Mu and Anna Novoselov

On February 16 and 17, community members will immerse themselves in Indian culture for three hours at the McAfee Center, with choreographed dance performances, an acapella singing act, lively music, vibrant costumes, decorations and delicious food. The performance, Bombay in the Bay (BNB), is the result of more than 300 Indian Cultural Awareness Club (ICAC) members who have poured in hours of time in order to organize the annual event.

The show will start at 6 p.m. on both days. Tonight, tickets will cost $12 and on Saturday, they will cost $20, since an Indian dinner is included.

Profits will go to the ABC project by the Tamil Nadu Foundation, which aims to provide education to impoverished children in India.

Senior ICAC co-president Gaurav Mohan said that he has grown to love dancing, teaching choreography and taking in the excitement of performing for a charitable cause of his choice.

“The best part has to be the thrill, fear, excitement and adrenaline rush of dancing on stage,” he said. “But I also enjoy the fun moments and memories I create with my friends and peers at practices and meetings.”

The event boasts a variety of Indian dances including classical, Bollywood, Bhangra and Tamasha, which are open to students from all grades. Additionally, each grade has a 6-minute performance, which consists of dances such as all-girls, all-boys and pairs.

The highlight of the night is the All-Girls Dance (AGD) and All-Males Dance (AMD), only open to seniors who have participated in BNB all four years of high school. Their performances are preceded by funny video introductions of each of the dancers.

“It feels like a big pay off after four years of hard work and time commitment,” Giri said. “Knowing that most of the audience is here to see those two dances makes everyone participating really want to put work into it and perform to their best.”

This year, there will also be a singing act inspired by Penn Masala, an acapella group from the University of Pennsylvania that mashes English songs with Bollywood.

Even though the show focuses on traditional Indian dancing, BNB is a non-cut production and is open to people from all ethnic groups.

“We welcome diversity and have been pleased to have a very diverse group of performers over the past several years,” Mohan said.

But putting on a three-hour show for a nearly sold-out audience is not easy. Senior co-president Laasya Giri said that organizing the event requires a lot of work and time commitment. It is especially challenging trying to communicate with everyone involved in the show.

The planning started as early as in the summer, when Giri and Mohan brainstormed skit ideas, reached out to sponsors and established heads of dances and officers. A month before the show, the workload skyrocketed, and the co-presidents had to finalize mixes, costumes and sponsors, write the script, keep track of each dance group, plan officer meetings and practice dances.

Mohan said that in the month leading up to the show, BNB can take up 20 hours a week.

According to sophomore pairs dance choreographer Krisha Minocha, one dance alone usually takes three hours to choreograph. Then, the routine is taught to the performers, who practice tirelessly to learn every step and movement.

“It’s a fun experience,” Minocha said. “I’ve been dancing Bollywood since I was five, so it kind of just made sense to become a choreographer.”

Although BNB is mainly a student-run production, parent volunteers and faculty members play an active role in ensuring the event’s success.

Psychology and AP Government/Econ teacher Hana Chen is the BNB adviser, serving as the “leeway between the students and school, and the parents and the school.” Her responsibilities include ticketing, proofreading the officer’s skits and making sure the students stay on task.

“It is a lot of work and sometimes a lot of drama, but it’s also very rewarding,” Chen said. “I learned so much Indian culture that I would like to keep advising in the future.”

She hopes that the students have a fulfilling experience from the performance.

“I hope the performers get a sense of pride; they run a whole show production which isn’t always easy to do,” Chen said. “And I hope they also get a sense of balance because it’s very hard to be deeply involved in these shows and in other things. I also hope that they just have fun.”