This week, justArts spoke with Zenith Rai ’20 who was the Intercultural Center Coordinator of the South Asian Student Association’s annual cutlure event, MELA. This year MELA’s theme was “Masakali: Dare to Fly.”

justArts: How did you come up with the theme?

Zenith Rai: The theme process is really just the e-board sitting for a couple meetings, putting out possible ideas and thinking about them. We wanted a theme that would be inspiring, and we finally ended up with “Masakali: Dare to Fly.” 

JA: What is the audition process like for the dances?

ZR: Well, each year, the performances can vary. There is not really an audition process for the dances to be in the show. The class dances are done by the people in each class. We bring in off campus performances as well, depending on what groups can be available for that night.

JA: How do you choose the dances?


ZR: This is only my second MELA, so I can only speak for the years I have seen, but as far as I know, there are always the class dances. In addition to that, classical indian dance and bhangra (a north indian dance style) are always in it. 

JA: How and why did you get involved with MELA?

ZR: I was involved in MELA last year, even before being on the e-board, through helping with making music mixes, because it’s an event that’s especially important for SASA. I joined the SASA e-board, because I’m originally from Nepal, and I wanted to be part of a community where I could get in touch with those aspects of myself. 

JA: What was the most rewarding part of coordinating MELA?

ZR: I am so happy to have been part of the SASA e-board this year, because I get to see all the hard work and effort into putting on a show. The co-events coordinators were really invested in planning and organizing the whole show, but the entire e-board really works together to make the show a success, so it is a group effort.

JA: What was the most challenging element of putting together MELA?

ZR: MELA is the largest student run event on campus, I believe, and we also have one of the smallest e-boards, so I guess it was one of the challenges to do all the work with a few number of people. However, I think it helps us be a stronger group, because the e-board is really invested in the planning. We also have extra helpers during MELA season.

JA: Is that the message you want the audience to take away?

ZR: Well, SASA is always up for trying new events, and we will be having some events coming up.

—Hannah Kressel