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Feel the Rhythms

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Performance groups don’t miss a beat at the annual multicultural benefit show

(Photo courtesy of Miriam Marks)

Whoever believes it takes two days to travel around the world has never seen Rhythms.

On Saturday night, Memorial Auditorium was awash in bright colors and music for Rhythms, the annual multicultural benefit show organized by Sanskriti, Stanford’s South Asian undergraduate organization. Rhythms whisked away the audience on a dazzling two-hour cultural journey consisting of singing, dancing, music making and joke telling.

The show featured 15 student groups, opening with Cardinal Calypso, the Trinidad and Tobago steel pan ensemble, and ending with the Bhangra dance team Chardi Jawani. Sanskriti will donate the proceeds of Rhythms — a projected $3,500 — to Project Dosti, an organization that provides opportunities for students to teach English and volunteer in India.

Miriam Marks ‘11, co-chair of Sanskriti, pronounced the event a success, in terms of the proceeds raised and the audience’s reaction.

“What stands out to me is the power of a couple of key people in putting on an event of this magnitude,” Marks said, citing the past few weeks of scheduling, emailing and rehearsing that went into the show. “I can never underestimate the power of one person anymore.”

Cardinal Calypso kicked off the first half of the show, which included music and dance from South India, China and Los Angeles, to name a few. After intermission, one of the most enthusiastically received performances was by Dil Se, a group that integrates modern and Bollywood dancing styles in order to showcase Indian culture. The audience lapped up Dil Se’s storyline of sexy employer meets hot employee, catcalling after every raunchy hip thrust and provocative pose.

Members of Raagapella, an all-male South Asian focus a cappella group, also sparked the interest of spectators, though for different reasons.

“I like the one standing next to him,” giggled a girl to her friend, pointing out one of Raagapella’s members.

“Yeah, even though they kind of sound like they’re doing karaoke,” replied her companion.

Another of the show’s highlights was the endearingly goofy pair of emcees, Pooja Desai ‘13 and Nick Cariello ‘13, who thoroughly entertained the audience with an excess of tacky puns and over-acted dialogue.

When at one point Cariello announced that they would have to tell jokes to stall for time, all of Memorial Auditorium smiled and groaned in unison. The jokes were predictably cheesy yet amusing — perfect for an audience of middle school adolescents.

“What did one calculator say to other?” Cariello asked.

“What?” answered a few brave members of the crowd.

“You can count on me!”

Both Cariello and Desai belong to student groups that performed in Rhythms: Dil Se and Basmati Raas, respectively. After the show, Desai commented on her experience with Basmati Raas, an Indian dance team that performs a style of dance known as Garba Raas.

“Dancing on [Basmati] Raas has easily been the best part of freshman year,” she exclaimed, still high on adrenaline. “I’ve gotten so close to everyone on the team, so just being with the people I love and dancing the dance I love has been an incredible experience.”

Jonathan Lautaha ‘13, a member of Kaorihiva, Stanford’s Polynesian dance group, echoed Desai’s enthusiasm.

“It was really fun,” he said. “People dance for many reasons, but I think the main one should be to have fun.”

“The show is such a good way to utilize the talent at Stanford for the social good,” he added.

For others, however, Rhythms was more than just a colorful collective of performances — it presented an opportunity for students to reconnect with their cultural base and promote cultural awareness.

“A big part of me being in Kayumanggi is to go back to my roots as a Filipino,” said Robi Bucayu ‘13, a member of the Filipino dance troop. “I think that it’s really important nowadays to get in touch with who you are and to not lose that sense of tradition that’s been passed down in your families.”

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