Same stage, a decade later: MVHS Raas on Spotlite

Shuvi Jha and Swara Tewari

Two hours before Spotlite, MVHS’ Indian cultural showcase, the backstage is in mayhem. Performers weave in and out of the door, fastening flowers in their hair, applying makeup, talking in clusters and running through last minute choreography. However, towards the edge of the rally court, away from the rest of the chaos, stands a cluster of older girls.

“I’m scared, but excited to do this again,” one of them comments to another.

These girls were the original founding members of the Raas team that was established 10 years ago. To celebrate Raas’s 10 year anniversary, they were invited to perform on the stage they first performed on as MVHS freshmen and sophomores — and now as adults.

“Some [Indo-American Student Association (IASA) members] reached out to me to do this,” MVHS alumni ‘12 Nupur Mehti said. “It’s amazing to be back. I’ve missed performing and that feeling it brings and all the frenzy around Spotlite.”

Photo courtesy of MVHS Raas.

Mehti explains that right before freshman year, she had moved to California from India. To her, finding a vibrant and inclusive Indian community at her new school was a huge relief and was integral to her social wellbeing.

“It was awesome — it was my first year and I had just moved from India,” Mehti said. “Everything felt like such a huge culture shock. It was really nice to find and create an Indian community at MVHS — it felt like I was keeping a part of my ethnic culture alive.”

Similarly, MVHS alumni Swaroop Mistri explains that having the opportunity to perform in front of an audience again was very thrilling. Although she has continued recreational dancing on Indian holidays, Mistri hasn’t done an organized dance since she graduated MVHS.

“Right now, I’m really enjoying choreographing again,” Mistri said. “I haven’t done an organized dance performance in so long, so it’s great to get my creative juices flowing again.”

Like Mistri and Mehti, junior Janani Pandurangan explains that before the show, she feels a dizzying jumble  of elation and nervousness. The moment she looked forward to most is when the final curtain drops after the closing show — when everybody is both fiercely proud and exhilarated, but also sentimental, as it’s the last time the seniors will put on the show.

“I’m expecting this to happen again this year after the last [dance] of Spotlite,” Pandurangan said. “After the show, everyone just starts crying because the seniors are leaving. It’s such a humbling and emotional moment, and it really shows how much we’ve bonded.”

Pandurangan believes Spotlite is extremely valuable to MVHS, as it is the only purely Indian culture focused event. To her, Indian-American students coming together to celebrate their cultural roots, no matter how far they are from their mother country, is a beautiful thing.

“Spotlite is the only Indian event at MVHS so most Indians are very excited to experience to see the culture and to see their friends take part in the culture,” Pandurangan said. “It’s just an incredible moment for the Indian community at MVHS as a whole.”