Sarika | July 24, 2015

Connecting to the Past...

Below is a blog post from Swathi Raman, a SAPAN musician who is also making her debut as an actress in Living Beyond Bollywood. Read below to learn about her experience and come check us out this weekend!!!

Photo Courtesy of Preet Mandavia
Photo Courtesy of Preet Mandavia

  When I went to my first Living Beyond Bollywood (LBB) rehearsal, I had no idea what to expect. Per our Ali’s request (our director), I had rote memorized my lines, but pretty much had done nothing else. When I started acting exercises with my scene partner, Shiv, the objective was to notice each other’s movements and micro-expressions. A wave of awkwardness washed over me – how strange it was to be examined so closely! As a singer, over years, I have been able to show expression in my voice, in the inflections of the notes that I sing – but acting was a completely different entity, and I had no idea what I was doing. Over the next few weeks, as Shiv and I rehearsed with each other, looked into each other’s eyes deeply, and shared stories from our own lives, I felt less and less like Swathi, and more and more like 1900’s Preet, my character, a young woman from Punjab eagerly awaiting the return of her fiancé, Jasjeet. The uncomfortable giggles of those first few rehearsals gave way to genuine love and tears. LBB taught me to truly be empathetic, to be vulnerable, and to give in to the moment!

Photo Courtesy of Kristen Lem Stevens
Photo Courtesy of Kristen Lem Stevens

Even outside of rehearsals, I find myself thinking about all the real-life Preets and Jasjeets of the past, all the sacrifice, waiting, hopes and dreams they had. I have a much greater appreciation for all those Indians who risked so much to have a chance to settle across the Atlantic. Despite the fact that Living Beyond Bollywood will be over in a month, I know that I will continue to carry a piece of Preet with me in my heart, a constant reminder of where we came from, and where we will continue to go.

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About the Author

Sarika began learning Bharatanatyam at the age of 6 and performed her Arangetram (solo dance debut) in 2000 under the tutelage of the Kunhiramans. Throughout her training, Sarika also attended the Natya-Adyayana-Gurukula (summer dance camp) conducted by the world renowned Dhananjayans. She has performed in multiple venues within California and was a part of the Dhananjayan dance drama, Satya Shivam Sundaram which toured through the East Coast. Although Bharatanatyam was Sarika’s first exposure to dance, she has since developed a love for other South Asian performing arts by performing with the UC Davis Girls Bhangra Team, Ronak Punjab Ki. She has also used her expressive talent to perform Bollywood film songs at weddings, at the University of Maryland Cultural Shows and a Virginia-based dance company. Sarika continues to pursue all forms of dance and has found that it has shaped many other aspects of her professional and personal life. Professionally, Sarika is a consultant specializing in Program Management and Strategy.

Photography courtesy of Sardar Aziz and Shan Jalla
sapan dancers
sapan member playing guitar

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