Rangila’s 20th anniversary performance to be held at Kennedy Center’s Opera House Theater

On Nov. 22, Rangila, organized by the South Asian Society, will be performed at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House Theater for the first time instead of Gaston Hall, where performances have traditionally been held.

According to Medha Chandorkar (COL ’15) and Alisha Datwani (MSB ’15), who serve as coordinators for the performance, the Center for Student Engagement told the South Asian Society last month that Gaston Hall’s stage was no longer available to host Rangila after inspections.

“They realized, with the impact that we have involved in Rangila dances and the amount of people that are on stage for that much time, that the stage was just structurally unsound to do Rangila on,” Chandorkar said. “We immediately went into finding other options, because not doing the show is never an option.”

The Office of the President had connections with the Kennedy Center because of the University’s annual Let Freedom Ring initiative, and helped book the Opera House Theater for Rangila through an expedited process around two and a half weeks after the CSE informed the South Asian Society about Gaston Hall. According to Chandorkar and Datwani, booking the Kennedy Center for an event would normally require planning many months in advance.

As the University has the Kennedy Center booked only for Nov. 22, performers and choreographers are rehearsing inside the Healey Family Student Center’s Social Room. Stage preparations and a full dress rehearsal are planned for the morning before the performance.

The South Asian Society will sell 1,800 tickets, up from 1,600 tickets split over two nights in Gaston Hall over previous years. Prices have also increased from $15 to $20 to reflect the change in venue.

Rangila’s organizers are currently making transportation arrangements with the CSE and the President’s office for dancers, but Datwani ruled out the possibility of transporting every single audience member to the Kennedy Center.

“We’re selling a ridiculous amount of tickets for a one-night show, rather than splitting it up for two nights, so we definitely won’t be able to transport everyone who wants to attend the show, that’s almost out of the question,” she said. “At the same time, the Kennedy Center isn’t that far away. It’s not a location that’s so far off campus that you have to drive there.”

Chandorkar and Datwani said that the Kennedy Center arrangements are a “one-time deal.” They have yet to draft plans for future performance venues yet because the need to tackle logistical problems for this year’s performance was more urgent. “The Kennedy Center’s not going to happen again, most likely because I’m assuming that the school’s going to do what they can to fix Gaston,” Datwani said.

The Voice had contacted the South Asian Society about Rangila’s venue change weeks ago, but they had declined to comment until now. The coordinators explained that they were not prepared to make statements before all the plans were finalized. “So many people are in love with this show, and we didn’t want to set expectations that we couldn’t reach,” Chandorkar said.

Finally, Vox asked, just for fun, what Chandorkar and Datwani could reveal about this year’s performance. All they said, smiling, was that it will be a night of incredible choreography around the theme of time travel.

“[Performing at the Kennedy Center has] honestly been a running joke. And the fact that it’s happening is beyond our expectations,” Chandorkar said.

Additional reporting by Ryan Miller

Photo: Georgetown Voice archives

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