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Bollywood Masala Orchestra shows off Indian culture

Dana Muensterman

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From the immense amount of audience participation to the high-pitched annoying ring of the microphone, Friday night’s performance was better than expected as the Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India made their way to Laxson Auditorium.

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Members of the Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India perform at Laxson Auditorium on Friday night. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

Just minutes before the show, I was passed out on my couch trying to gain some of my lost energy from the week’s classes. Unfortunately, the nap was useless once I was woken abruptly by my roommate, who reminded me I had to get a move on.

Biking to Laxson Auditorium was not the worst of waking up discombobulated at 7:20 p.m.— it was the intense fluctuations of sound coming from the orchestra itself.

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Members of the Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India performing at Laxson Auditorium on Friday night. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

The orchestra was comprised of several people playing brass instruments, while other band members sat on the floor playing older, more traditional instruments like the dholak and tabla (drum type instruments).

Robes layered with a rainbow sequence shimmered brightly whenever the lights moved over them. The costumes were so extravagant that if the loud noises of the orchestra had not already woken me up, the costumes sure would have.

After catching some more fresh air during intermission, the show really started.

The opening act of the second half was incredible. The sounds of their instruments and voices strung together in great harmony. The glittering of their shirts danced along with the melody.

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A vocalist of the Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India show at Laxson Auditorium on Friday night. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

Several times during the performance the lead singer would stop to ask, “You feel good?” and would not stop asking until he got a loud response from the audience. I have never been to a show where I, as an audience member, had been so integrated in the act. The orchestra had the audience clapping along to almost every song.

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The Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India perform at Laxson Auditorium on Friday night. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

Three dancers appeared in colorful, Indian dresses that swayed with every move they made. They only went onstage a couple of times, but each time they did, I was completely mesmerized by the amount of times they could spin in circles without throwing up or falling over. I loved hearing the jingling sounds of their anklets dancing along with the music. The anklets, to me, seemed like an Indian version of tap shoes.

There were many times where they would stop performing to ask how we were doing and give a brief description about what we would hear next. At one point, they began to describe the countless religions in India, from Buddhism to Hindu, Judaism and more. The most outstanding quote of the night was, “Our religion is of music and love, and if everyone believed in this, we could all get along.”

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A member of the Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India balances a pot full of water on his head while standing on sword blades. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

At the end of the performance I expected the performers to bow, thank the audience and end the show.

Not in this performance.

Instead, the lead singer asked the audience to stand up and join them in the last song. One of the dancers stood closer to the audience, and we were instructed to do as she did. As the music commenced, wrists started twirling all over Laxson Auditorium.

Dana Muensterman can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Bollywood Masala Orchestra shows off Indian culture