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Sleepy penguins 

Cute animals have always been an obsession of mine. I’m a cat lover at heart, but something about aquatic, flightless birds planking mini-rock formations is just so adorable.  When I found out that the Kirkland House spring formal dance would be at the New England Aquarium in Boston, I couldn’t say no. The formal attire seemed to fit in perfectly with the tuxedo-adorning penguins.


This was the first formal where I ditched the boyfriend and went with all girlfriends: a reunion for the group of us that had known each other since year one at Harvard. As tribute to the coming end of four incredible years, my freshman roommate Anita wore the same dress as she had to our freshman formal.

My freshman roomate, Anita, & I

The troupe of all eight of us arrived together and we were immediately enamored by a loan seal attempting to get our attention. I wondered whether the fishes would be kept awake by the loud music at the formal, but saw as we wandered inside that the dance floor was held outside on the deck, providing a beautiful view of Boston waterfront all to the sounds of a student DJ spinning out tunes.

All the group ready to head to the aquarium 

The penguins slept soundly inside and fishes of all sizes and colors whirled around us in the main lobby, providing a glowing show among the silence. Even as my last undergraduate formal, it was one of the most memorable.

 Love-Bird Penguins 


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This weekend I was lucky enough to go see friends perform in two great shows: “Execution,” put on by the Expressions Dance Company; and “Othello,” performed by Harvard’s Hyperion Shakespeare Company. Now is the time of year that student groups put on their fall semester exhibitions and performances, having had some time to practice for the past two months. I was excited to get a chance to support my friends and the groups they’re a part of!

First up on Saturday was the Expressions show: “Execution” is the title of their fall dance performance. Expressions is a student-run company that focuses on hip-hop, though they sometimes bring in tastes of other styles. Being someone who is TERRIBLE at dancing, I’m always so impressed by Expressions dancers – they all look so sassy (in the best way possible)! This performance was also great because it incorporated a piece by City Step, a group on campus that volunteers with middle schoolers in Cambridge and teaches them how to dance. Their oldest class, made up of 7th graders, got a chance to partake in the Expressions show and I know they kids were all ridiculously excited about it.

Photo Credit: Gordon Bae


Saturday night I went to see another friend as Iago in a rendition of Shakespeare’s “Othello” done by the Harvard Hyperion Shakespeare Company. Personally, I was completely unfamiliar with the storyline until seeing the play this weekend, and it was kind of nice to be able to watch without comparing their performance to any established opinions or biases. The blurbs advertising “Othello” described it as highly stylized, and it definitely was – all of the characters, aside from Othello himself, were wearing white to symbolize the racial divide defining the character relations. Their rendition was mind-blowing! It’s so exciting to see successful student performances on campus.

Othello Poster

I was particularly glad to have an excuse to stay inside on Saturday night because Boston experienced a surprise October snowstorm! While it’s not terribly unusual to get snow this time of year, it definitely caught everyone off guard. I, for one, don’t have any of my winter jackets on campus and spent the weekend exercising some serious layering strategy. Below is a picture of the lone snowman I found in Harvard Yard the next day – as is very characteristic of New England weather, we went from having near blizzard conditions on Saturday night to a sunny 50 degree day on Sunday. Sometimes I can’t keep up!

The Lonely Snowman

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Managing 350 performers for four sold-out performances of four hour each? I would have said this was impossible a month ago, but my job as producer for the past couple weeks has been to provide some organization to, Ghungroo, the largest student-run production on campus.

Ghungroo is an annual cultural show held in early March by the Harvard South Asian Association. For me, the show extends far beyond the dances, skits, and music acts that make up the show. Rather, the show is the largest moment where our student organization builds the community of students excited about South Asian culture, performance, and pushing the limits of what they thought they would be able to do. Over half of the students are of non-South Asian descent and the vast majority have never danced before. After the performance, many students stay close to their peers in their dances. On the final night of the performance, nearly a hundred alumni from the show’s generation-long history return to cheer on the current performances.

Producing a show of this scale is a major feet. Apart from booking spaces, coordinating rehearsals, managing our technical and production staff with the help of our amazing directors Alethia, Jeff, and Sharmila, and selling over 1000 tickets, we’re maintaining a full course load and (ideally) still getting sleep and seeing our friends. But while we put in hundreds of hours over the month, I gained the confidence to mange people and play a critical part in creating something far larger than what I could do by myself. Harvard is great at showing its students that if they put their mind to something, it’s pretty tough to reach their limits; I have to say this definitely applies here. But as with any student activity, the best part is definitely meeting the other students and making friendships that far outlast the show.

Like any show, the most exciting day is the actual performance. Ghungroo is known for its colorful costumes, intricate set, and exorbitant energy:

The "Bollywood Oldies" dance

The "Bollywood Oldies" dance

The "Nepali" dance

The "Nepali" dance

The glow-in-the-dark moon seen on the set during a filler by a dancer wielding glow sticks.

The glow-in-the-dark moon seen on the set during a filler by a dancer wielding glow sticks.

Lastly, sorry for the my lull in writing. With Ghungroo now over, I should hopefully have more time to provide updates on the blog. Next up: an update on my spring break trip to Dubai with the Harvard College in Asia Program exchange conference.

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