Spotlite dates moved up because of schedule complications

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Aanchal Garg

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lmost 50 people filed into math teacher Sushma Bana’s room during lunch, most arriving within minutes of the bell ringing. MVHS Indo-American Student Association (IASA) officers huddled at the front of the room, waiting to start their presentation. Their audience was a group of dancers, singers and actors — newcomers and veterans alike — who were eager to know more about Spotlite.

On November 13, MVHS IASA held an interest meeting for Spotlite, the club’s annual Indian culture showcase. The meeting went over the various deadlines and requirements to be a part of the show. Presenting were the officers of the club, including vice president senior Swati Chayapathi. Chayapathi described the importance of the show and what it means for the performers.

“Spotlite every year is a really emotional time, especially [for] teams, because people grow a lot over the year and we put a lot of work into it,” Chayapathi said.

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Senior Gokul Pillai deals with some technical difficulties before presenting. The presentation went over dates for auditions and check-ins for interested performers. Photo by Aanchal Garg.

According to IASA, this year’s Spotlite will take place in the beginning of April instead of the end of May for the first time  — almost two months earlier. Due to the fact that AP testing and finals week are one week closer this school year — eliminating the weekend they would normally host the show — Chayapathi said the show has to be held earlier. The earlier date consequently pulled up the deadlines as well.

“That’s going to be a little bit of a challenge for, I’m sure, a lot of people because Spotlite was always seen as this end-of-this-year thing,” Chayapathi said.

Similarly, co-president senior Gokul Pillai comments that the decision was not generally well-received by the performers. Many were upset at the earlier deadlines, especially those who have other school trips planned for the spring. Even performers who didn’t have any conflicts expressed disappointment. Chayapathi and Pillai, who both have been performing at Spotlite as part of the MVHS Bhangra team for the past four years, don’t blame them.

“People like that [Spotlite] is towards the end of the year, [and] it’s like a tradition now because it’s been going on for so many years,” Pillai said. “Having it be in April, people don’t get that same sort of feel.”

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Co-president senior Dhruv Parikh presents on auditions for being an emcee during the show. The deadlines for all auditions were advanced because there was no available day in May to host Spotlite. Photo by Aanchal Garg.

Chayapathi explains that there are pros and cons to both dates. The date in May is in the middle of AP testing and finals, which tends to lower the number of people who come. On the other hand, if Spotlite were held on April 6 and 7 like it will be this year, there would be a bigger gap between the showcase and AP testing. Students will then have more time to study, and the event won’t interfere with academics. However, it comes at the expense of losing the feeling of nostalgia synonymous with the event.

Despite the big change, performers like junior Nandhini Pandurangan are still grateful that the event will continue and that she has the chance to perform. This year will be Pandurangan’s first time attending and performing at Spotlite because it’s her first year on Bhangra.

“It’s amazing how we have this Indian community and we actually do something with it rather than [saying] we have this high population of Asian people,” Pandurangan said. “We get to show other people who are coming, especially other schools, how into Indian culture we are.”

Spotlite is often an emotional time for those performing and watching, especially since teams get to perform in front of their home crowd. Even though performers are afraid that the shift in dates will take away the emotional aspect, many feel it won’t reduce the energy or enthusiasm of the show.

“It sucks that we can’t have [Spotlite] be our ending note, but at the same time, it happens to be like this and it’ll still be a great show,” Pillai said. “We can’t change the circumstances, [but] I’m just happy it still gets to go on.”

Check out IASA’s Spotlite interest presentation below:

Spotlite 2018 by Swati Chayapathi