Sarika | August 7, 2015

Living Beyond Bollywood

Today we have a post from our youngest actor performing in Living Beyond Bollywood, Priya Miller. Read about her experience and come check us out tomorrow!!   When walking into a museum, it is easy to have the expectation of seeing sporadic paintings or artifacts decorating otherwise empty, sterile rooms. When walking into the Beyond Bollywood exhibit however, visitors are greeted by the overwhelming atmosphere of liveliness that only a theatrical performance can bring. Being an actor with SAPAN has enabled me to be a part of this new museum experience, for which I am so thankful.

Photo Courtesy of Shan Jalla
Photo Courtesy of Shan Jalla

When I have visited museums, often I feel interested in, but also very detached from the history presented before me. Even walking through the Beyond Bollywood exhibit, as an Indian American, I struggled with imagining the injustice Indians had faced. Once I began rehearsals with SAPAN, however, for the Living Beyond Bollywood play, my entire perspective on this rich history changed. Not only did I get to meet an eclectic group of actors, but I had the privilege of learning their personal histories, and how they related to the exhibit. Everyone from SAPAN brought unique skills to the table which enhanced our overall performance, and have made it that much more impactful. As we neared show time I began to see the universality of the Beyond Bollywood exhibit, as not highlighting the adversity of one race, but the struggles and triumphs experienced by all; SAPAN showed me this, and much more.

Living Beyond Bolloywood Cast 2015
Living Beyond Bolloywood Cast 2015

While I had participated in productions at my school and in my community, I had never been given the chance to perform in a venue of such stature as the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, until SAPAN made it possible. SAPAN allowed me to explore my heritage, and teach it to hundreds of visitors from all backgrounds. From show to show I could see people enjoying the exhibit in a much more engaged and interested way than ever before possible from a typical museum experience. By taking the history and bringing it to life, SAPAN touched more people than an artifact ever could. From my involvement with SAPAN, I have learned about myself, and about how the arts can take the South Asian experience Beyond Bollywood.

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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