By Ria Prasad
The South Asian American Student Association, more commonly known as SAASA, is one of High School North’s most populous clubs. Every Memorial Day weekend, 300 students from all different ethnicities come together to put on performances showcasing a year’s worth of effort and practice. For the safety of the staff and students involved, however, the performance-based club has made the shift to an all virtual setting, posing undeniable difficulties for both members and officers.
“Our club is highly dependent on interclub relations and forming friendships across grade levels,” Junior officer Kirthi Chigurupati explains. “Making those connections over Zoom is just not the same.” In the absence of in person meetings, the officers are struggling to gauge the personality and confidence levels of their performers, which are both equally as important as their ability to dance.
The show itself, usually yielding numbers over 500, is subject to change as well. “We are very uncertain about the prospect of our show, it will definitely not be indoors or at full capacity” says officer Hamsini Pokkunuri, “We are playing around with the idea of a socially distanced outdoor show over the course of multiple days.” Despite uncertainties, the officers are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amid attempts to keep club members engaged.
Due to the school’s new club guidelines and the state’s COVID restrictions, the officers were forced to make the difficult decision of cutting out the group dance portion of the show. “We are relying heavily on the outcome of winter sports to set a precedent for our club, as we by no means want to make people uncomfortable or put them in a dangerous position” shares Chigurpati. Without the group dance portion of the show freshman attendance has been low.
The group dances are always a member favorite, as friends get together throughout the year to choreograph their own routine, pick their own outfits, and perform with some of their closest friends on stage. In an effort to compensate for cutting group dance out, the rosters for the six specialty dances (Bhangra, Hip Hop, Classical, South Indian, Raas, and Partner) now include more people than they have in past years. For now, SAASA’s officers are currently in the midst of their auditions, striving to make this year as normal as possible.
At the end of the day, the buzz around North’s SAASA remains more or less the same. The club’s high spirits are contagious, as is seen by the turnout at auditions thus far. Given the members’ commitment to this club, even without the promise of a show, there is no doubt that SAASA will continue to remain one of High School North’s most popular clubs.