Rangila marks its 25th anniversary this year and will use the showcase to pay homage to the individuals who shaped it over the years while introducing new elements like live music.
Rangila, Georgetown University’s annual, student-run philanthropic showcase of South Asian dance, includes an average of 500 dancers, 1,500 audience members and $30,000 raised for India-based charities per showcase.
This year’s 25th anniversary show, set for Nov. 22 to 23 in Gaston Hall, is themed “Make Your Mark.” This theme aims to celebrate Rangila’s past while simultaneously keeping the show rooted in the present, according to Rangila co-coordinator Anshul Agrawal (COL ’20).
“We’re really trying to highlight the individuals that have shaped Rangila over the past 25 years as well as the individuals that are shaping it in its 25th year,” Agrawal said. “I think ‘Make Your Mark’ is the perfect amalgamation of that.”
While the show primarily features South Asian music, many of the choreographers also incorporate pop, rap and Latin music into their dances. Agrawal’s past dances have included genres ranging from traditional South Asian music to newer Bollywood tracks and rap songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA.” Such variety helps show the dynamism of South Asian culture, according to Agrawal.
“What Rangila strives to celebrate is how universal South Asian music and dance can be,” Agrawal said. “With most shows of this nature it’s either totally South Asian or it’s not very cultural at all, and I think Rangila brings a good mix because ultimately it’s a fusion showcase.”
This year Rangila will broaden its celebration of South Asian culture with its first in-house band, Saaz, composed of instrumentalists and vocalists from the Georgetown community that will perform their own original compositions inspired by South Asian music, according to Agrawal.
This new element will expand Rangila’s cultural showcase to highlight areas beyond the choreographed aspect of the show, according to Raas dance co-choreographer Anika Sanghvi (SFS ’22).
“Introducing a band makes it not as much dance-focused and more just about South Asian culture, and it broadens the scope of what Rangila is,” Sanghvi said in an interview with The Hoya.
A key but often forgotten aspect of Rangila is its philanthropy, according to Sanghvi. Each year the Rangila philanthropic board selects an India-based charity to which they donate the show’s proceeds.
This year, the money raised from Rangila will go toward Behala Anwesha The Quest, a nonprofit organization based in Kolkata, India, that supports children with disabilities through music and dance therapies, according to their website.
Anwesha’s mission of helping children with disabilities develop their confidence aligns closely with Rangila’s own, according to Agrawal.
“Their mission was something that we were really excited about because we also seek to empower people through music and dance,” Agrawal said.
Rangila’s collaboration with Anwesha is particularly important given that mental and physical disability is rarely discussed in South Asian or American communities, according to Agrawal.
“Issues of disability and the privilege that comes with being able-bodied is not something that we talk about too often,” he said. “So I was very excited for the Rangila community to engage with that issue this year by supporting Anwesha.”
Last year, the $30,000 raised from Rangila went to Prerana Anti-Human Trafficking, a nonprofit institution working toward ending the cycle of sex trafficking in India. Rangila has also partnered with Lend-A-Hand India, a nonprofit venture that provides vocational training to youth in rural and urban communities, and The Next Purpose, a nonprofit group that establishes sustainable medical and educational projects in underserved communities in India, in previous years.
Through dance, music and philanthropy, Rangila has fostered an important cultural community on Georgetown’s campus for the past 25 years, especially among South Asian students, according to the Bulldog Bhangra dance choreographer, Syona Hariharan (SFS ’22).
“It’s definitely given me a much better sense of community and family,” Hariharan said.
Rangila has also provided an important opportunity for South Asian students to share their culture and feel represented and appreciated on Georgetown’s predominantly white campus, according to Hariharan.
“It’s nice to feel like people are interested in my culture and have such a positive attitude toward it,” Hariharan said.
Agrawal is looking forward to shouldering the responsibility of coordinating this year’s cultural showcase despite the 25th anniversary’s added significance, he said.
“Regardless of whatever year it was — whether it was the 24th or 100th—I’d feel the same amount of pressure simply because Rangila is such a huge event with so many people involved,” Agrawal said. “It’s a whole lot of talent, it’s a whole lot of dedication, and it’s a whole lot of enthusiasm for the culture.”