Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

VIEWPOINT: Find Magic in Rangila


The aroma of 412 pizzas mixes with that of freshly printed playbills and posters. The pitter-patter of chappals echoes through Healy Hall as board members arrange merchandise on tables. The Gaston Hall stage remains pitch black, with lighting cues still unfinished. 400 performers and a sold-out audience of 743 guests are mere hours from arriving. 

Welcome to Rangila.

A 10-act student production held for two nights every November in Gaston Hall, Rangila is the largest charity dance showcase in the United States. The commitment is intense. Dancers attend weekly three-hour practices. Choreographers spend the summer and fall semesters developing their routines, adjusting their mixes and hosting office hours. Board members jump from designing the playbills to planning an event with the United Nations’ deputy director to hauling tables from Arrupe Hall to Healy Hall for fundraisers.

As two of this year’s three coordinators, alongside Elizabeth George (SFS ’23), we were responsible for putting together this year’s showcase and managing the Rangila Team.

And we are proud of everything that was accomplished in Rangila Royale — from doubling the number of performers in our musical set to including nine genre dances for the first time. However, as the showcase has ultimately always centered around its philanthropic mission — directing all proceeds to benefit a select South Asian non-profit each year — the impact of our efforts is best encapsulated by the record-breaking $70,000 raised for Action Against Hunger. 

But the mere description of our roles and the responsibilities that followed fail to adequately convey the labor of love that was Rangila Royale. Looking at the job description removes the emotional and nuanced dimension of our experiences. 

This leaves us wondering how a charity dance showcase evolved into such a beloved and essential part of the Georgetown experience.

From our initial introduction to Rangila, we knew it was special. Saar spent Rangila 27 in 2021 developing the philanthropy board’s external outreach, trying to convey the magic of Rangila in 200-word emails to corporate sponsors. Sanaa spent Rangila 27 spontaneously emceeing in an attempt to quench her homesickness for Mumbai. For both of us, Rangila 28 in 2022 featured weekly calls with our philanthropy partner, overusing the MSB printing access to market our events and double-checking that every performer received their roses, even though it meant staying up until 7 a.m. the Friday night of the show. 

But in these first dips into Rangila, we found friendship and joy in the sleep deprivation. We were hooked and immediately knew that we needed to be as involved as possible in the coming year. 

In all honesty, it often felt more like a mess than the perfectly organized, meticulously planned showcase we had in mind. There were more behind-the-scenes crises than we care to admit, and more personal, socio-emotional and professional tests than we ever expected. 

The decision-making demands grew, bringing unwanted worries as Rangila loomed closer. Outlining a daunting finance spreadsheet had us worrying whether we would be able to raise any money. As we slogged through rehearsals, impostor syndrome quietly nudged and we began to doubt our team’s trust in us. When we realized one week in advance that Gaston Hall wasn’t booked for rehearsals, panic set in.

Then, when we were certain we were the wrong people for the job, our community reeled us right back in. 

While we worried our performers weren’t getting to know each other, hundreds of them stormed Crepeaway like it belonged to them and belted out the lyrics to South Asian tunes all night. When we panicked about the cheesiness of the theme Rangila Royale, choreographers wholeheartedly embodied James Bond at sign-ups, donning all-black outfits and sunglasses. After weeks of nightmares that launching online ticket sales for the first time in Rangila history would result in an empty Gaston Hall, the tickets sold out in under four minutes — “Now it’s real,” we thought to ourselves. 

All of that reminded us of the reason we obsessed over every aspect of this showcase for nine months: connection. Rangila was more than the numbers, the statistics and the pictures and songs — it was flitting between the funny and poignant on an hourly basis in what became the most meaningful experience of our lives.

Rangila is magic. 

We started as shy underclassmen, suspicious of Georgetown club culture, let alone a 400-person, high-energy showcase. With a blind leap of faith, a craving for a home on the Hilltop and a desire to connect with our roots, we found ourselves amongst people who believed in the same vision as us. Passion and ambition are contagious.

As we all continue our journeys on the Hilltop, we encourage you to find your version of Rangila — a community that constantly shapes your college experience for the better — and commit yourself to it. 

You will end up forever in its debt. 

Saar Shah is a senior in the McDonough School of Business and Sanaa Mehta is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.

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