This year’s Festival of India talent show, aptly titled the Essence of India, was held at the grand Riverbend Auditorium. Although the location was a forty minute drive from campus, the Auditorium had a large seating capacity and good acoustic support. ISA and Delta Epsilon Psi did a commendable job of organizing buses to and from the location.
The Essence of India Talent Show offered $5000 as prize money, the largest South Asian Talent Show prize money ever given. This year’s show had teams competing from Ohio, New York, and Texas. Many of the teams had competed in ISA’s Taal Talent Show held in early April.
Unsurprisingly, the talent show started late. Adhering to ‘Indian Standard Time,’ the show began nearly thirty minutes behind schedule. However, the frustrating wait did not diminish the quality of talent that would follow.
The show began with the national anthems of India and the United States. After the anthems, the audience was introduced to the emcees for the evening, Gopi Patel and Alykhan Rehmatullah. Both emcees did a stellar job of introducing teams and keeping the audience amused.
The first group to perform was UT’s Hum a Capella. Hum a Capella gave a laudable singing performance with a fusion of Hindi songs such as Ishq Bina, Ghanana Ghanana, and Tu Jaane Naa. Their performance was marked by great facial expressions and a delightful mix of dance and song. They concluded with a powerful rendition of the Circle of Life by Sheryl Abraham.
Texas Raas was followed by Houston-based Infused Performing Arts dance group. The group certainly lived up to its name and gave an outstanding performance consisting of Kathak and Bhangra dance styles. In addition to dance, the group also had a Tabla player, which made for a refreshing change. The group’s performance was unlike that of its predecessors since it revolved around a central story. I was impressed by their color scheme, coordination, and appropriately chosen music.
After a brief intermission of ten minutes, the next group to perform was the percussion-based Dhoom, from UT. There is no doubt as to why the group calls itself Dhoom; their performance was nothing short of an explosion. Following their amusing and unique introduction video, the group captivated the audience with their fast-paced drum rolls and self-deprecating but well done attempts at dance. In addition to their glow-in-the-dark masked props at Taal, the group wore sound-responsive shirts which stayed in tow to their amazing beat. The group gave a terrific performance and clearly got the loudest response from the crowd. If ever there was an epitome of coordination and perfect synchronization, it would be Dhoom.
Dhoom was followed by the second Dandiya Raas team of the night, Texas A&M’s Wreckin’ Raas. The group made good use of colorful costumes and had consistent coordination throughout their performance. For a team in its first year, Wrecking Raas did a great job. However, in comparison to Texas Raas, the team fell several yards short. I found their performance to be good, but not impressive.
Information was also obtained from www.foi2010.com
1. Ghagra-choli: traditional festive garment worn by women in the Indian subcontinent. Ghagra cholis are intricately designed long skirts worn with a blouse and a roll over chunari (scarf).
2. Dhoti: traditional formal garment worn by men in the Indian subcontinent. Dhotis are rectangular unstitched cloths, about seven yards long that wrap around the waist and legs.