After two extremely busy weekends this semester – sorority Recruitment and the JHUMUNC Conference – I am finally back with a semi-normal schedule. Good thing, too, since last weekend was a great weekend to spend time with friends and see some amazing performances by Hopkins Groups!

One of the classes I’m in this semester, called “Drama Queens” is all about women represented on the opera stage, and part of the requirements for the course is going to see several live productions. On Friday, we all went to Theatre Project in the Station North neighborhood to see the Peabody Chamber Orchestra’s production of three one-act operettas. Entitled Women in the Dark, the three pieces all concerned women – sisters, mothers, mad women, marginalized women, and everything in between.

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From Peabody Chamber Orchestra’s Women in the Dark

The most interesting piece was the third and final performance of the night, called Anon, written and composed by Errollyn Wallen, and it was actually the American premiere of the piece. Based off of the novel Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost, it is a blending of tales about the current struggles women face today, from prostitution, abuse, online dating, honor killing, and gender politics. In my class, a question always on our minds is, “why does the woman always die at the end of the opera?” It’s a challenging question, because the stories are different, but always end the same. Anon asks that very same question, and finally sums it up: “for a lot of reasons… but always because she is a woman.”

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A scene from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut – very different from what I saw last Friday

On Saturday night, I attended a very different performance, this time by JHU’s own South Asian Students at Hopkins (SASH) club. Two of my close friends are in SASH, and one in particular was the MC, and so I wanted to be Dil Se, meaning “From the Heart,” is the premiere showcase of South Asian talent held each year in Shriver Hall. SASH invites a dozen or so South Asian performance groups from other universities like UChicago, William and Mary, and Rutgers to campus to perform.

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Zanir (the show’s MC!) and Neha on stage. My friends are so amazing 💙

Though I’ve seen a few short performances by some of JHU’s Indian dance and a cappella groups, I was so excited to see an entire showcase dedicated to an art form I know little about. Dil Se completely blew me away! I learned about so many different types of dance and singing style from Bhangra (check out JHU’s AMAZING Blue Jay Bhangra below) to Bollywood to Raas, and it was so amazing to see such a large community of South Asians and South Asian Americans come together to celebrate their diverse cultures.

I think what I enjoyed most about last weekend was going out to see and try something new. I had never been to Theatre Project before, and I hope to visit it again for more intimate blackbox theater. And even though I’ve watched a few Bollywood movies, it’s nothing compared watching live Bhangra dance. That’s one of the most beautiful things about college – when else would you have the time and ability to go out and watch something totally new?