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Sahaara -- Taking Bollywood Dance To Next Level In USA

By Shivali Aurora Tandon

SAN JOSE, May 6:

Now that I’m nearing graduation, I wanted to shed some light on the single most life-changing experience of college - SJSU Sahaara. Bear with me as this is going to be a long one.

Five years ago I came to San Jose State University a hopeful freshman excited for a clean slate. If you knew me in high school you knew that I didn’t make much of my time there for various reasons (distance from home, general demographic, extracurricular activities, etc.) With 4 years of regret behind me, I had to do everything in my power to make this next chapter worthwhile.

I first tried to get used to my surroundings while my friends from other schools were joining their respective Bollywood dance teams. I didn’t think I could ever be a part of it since SJSU had no team - and to be honest I was okay with this.

February approached and I was about to attend my 1st Bollywood Berkeley as a college freshman and 3rd one overall. As I watched my friends perform their hearts out on stage with me cheering proudly in front of them, I felt my heart sink with the realization that I would never get to experience this. Not only was I not okay with it anymore, but I knew I had to facilitate a change if I ever wanted to be on that stage.

After that weekend, I searched our school’s website for the process of starting an organization. Every article I read and school authority I met with said the same thing: “You can’t (shouldn’t) start a club as a Freshman, try joining the other 500 ones we have!”

Clearly not the answer I was looking for, but it pushed me to unofficially start “SJSU Bollywood Dance”.

Next thing I knew I was posting flyers in every school related social media and taping them around campus in hopes that I’d get even one person to attend my parking garage workshop.

To my surprise, I had 17 entire strangers show up on a 90 degree day and it was in that moment I knew I had some grasp on making this team a reality.

Entering my Sophomore year, I turned “SJSU Bollywood Dance” into an officially recognized organization on campus and thus, after scrolling through every existing Hindi/Urdu word beginning with the letter S, “Sahaara” was born.

By the following spring, we performed our debut set at SJSU’s Multicultural Showcase and then began preparing for our first competition season.

I wanted it all - the audition videos, the costumes, the custom mix, the props and production for our first official 8 minute set.

As December approached, I got a phone call from a Bollywood Berkeley representative who started the conversation with “Congratulations!” to which I nearly screamed asking if this was a joke because there was no way that this three month old team actually made it into our goal competition in our first year - but we did.

The next three years were filled with everything and more that I imagined Sahaara could be. Traveling for competitions to states and cities I’d otherwise never get to see, meeting people who have now become my lifelong best friends, and bringing my creative vision to life all while exploring multiple facets of the only thing I’ve ever been wholeheartedly passionate about.

Leading this team has taught me more lessons than I can reiterate into actual words, but if it’s one thing that has stuck with me is that it’s to never compare your successes and failures to others.

Though every team may ultimately want to achieve the same goal, every team also goes through their own struggles in the fight along the way and when the time is right, you will receive the credit that you deserve. In other words, perspective is key.

A flower may start off as a single seed but its bud blooms into the petals that give it its beauty - aka my extra way of saying I couldn’t have done this alone.

To everyone who has supported me in the progression of this team, you are the stem that holds up this lotus and the motivation that kept me wanting to do better.

To the members of S0, S1, S2, and S3, thank you for taking a chance on this new team and making it a part of your college experience; without your willingness to simply dance, there would be nothing for Sahaara to thrive off of.

To my co-captains who stuck through the overflowing administrative responsibilities year after year, thank you for being the fuel to the engine that made this team not only run, but soar.

To the artists that dealt with every mix concept and edit I threw at you at odd hours of the day, thank you for your time and patience in using your craft to create musical arrangements that exceeded my expectations of having audibly appealing sets.

To my parents, thank you for being the brightest lights in my life in allowing me to pursue this team to the degree that I did; not only did you shower me with unconditional love, but each year you aided in the development of our set and proudly attended the final showcasing of it. I will always be grateful to everyone who thought this endeavor was worth something !

….and that’s a wrap! @ Sahaara 4.0, I can’t wait to see what you come up with !

Editor of added: Soon after Shivali posted her success story on Facebook, beautiful and encouraging comments started pouring from all quarters.

Rohit Chhavi N Myra said: So proud of you for being a pioneer and an inspiration to so many others that want to follow in your footsteps but are possibly scared to do so. You followed your heart and it almost always pays off when you do that. Wishing Sahara all the best. Stay blessed ...u my dear are a rising star. A force to be reckoned with...always remember that. Love n blessings from all of us.

Neha Rijhwani wrote: So proud of you Shivi .. dreams do come true .... never stop dreaming.

Neelema Tandon wrote: I know it has been a tough journey for you, its very easy for ppl who walk on the road already made and a path laid out, but to pave the way for others to follow is never easy. I am so so proud of what you have done and created, It was your passion and total commitment that led you do this. Never ever give up this determination and the willpower to achieve what you want in life. This journey itself is your achievement and success. Recognition follows, it is just a stamp. Congratulations to your team for all the hardwork and support they have extended!!!!!

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain.
Luvs and hugs always��



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