Opening this year’s culture shows, on September 29th and 30th, the Indian Student’s Association (ISA) put on the eagerly awaited Jalsa celebration. Unlike last year’s collaborative shows that included a mix of acts from two cultures, Jalsa featured solely Indian-inspired performances. Although more narrow in scope, Jalsa still provided the audience with a diverse taste of India’s rich culture and traditions. Let’s dive into the good and bad in this year’s Jalsa!
With dynamic performances, beautiful singing, and, admittedly, cringy hosting, Jalsa put on a memorable and engaging performance throughout. I remain consistently impressed by the amount of work and dedication that students put into culture shows. From the performers to the IMSA Student Productions (ISP) volunteers to the backstage ninjas, the amount of interlocking parts all working in tandem is truly impressive. Some of the standout performances, for me, had to be both the Girls’ and Boys’ dances as their infectious energy and enthusiasm were unmatched. You also can’t talk about the highlights of any culture show without talking about Modern, the “creme de la creme” as Arjun Cherukuri would say. Defined by their sharp movements and synchronous choreography, Modern’s mantle as the best that IMSA’s culture shows have to offer doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Additionally, the shortening of the show overall also made for a much better viewing experience, as I was engaged throughout the entire show, compared to last year where it felt much harder to pay attention for the whole 3 hours.
Fortunately, nothing particularly devastating occurred in this year’s Jalsa celebration; however, the common problems that plague IMSA’s culture shows still remain. Late start times, technical misshapes, and long food lines highlight some of the many problems that Jalsa – and the rest of IMSA’s culture shows – continue to have. I don’t want to rag on Jalsa specifically, as these are issues that I have seen in all the culture shows I’ve been to, but I would urge future culture show organizers to really take these problems seriously in their planning, as these hitches can often sour an otherwise amazing experience. In particular, the race for food after the show persists as the worst part of all the culture shows in my opinion, as the disorganization and moshpit of people all pushing and pulling to get into the cafeteria is always a pain to wade through.
So, although Jalsa still possessed many of the same problems as past culture shows, my experience of it was still extremely positive. Culture shows remain one of my favorite aspects of IMSA culture and I have no doubt that Casa De Los Muertos coming up in November will be even better!