Report on a Bihu Performance in San Francisco, USA, July 2003

This was followed by the Assam 2002 conference in Denver, where a group of young men and women from the San Francisco Bay Area did an authentic live Hussori Bihu dance. At that performance, a vision was set to try to create awareness about the Bihu dance in the greater Indian community as well as the general American public. Although that vision is still far from being fulfilled, this group has made small achievements over the past year. Bihu, with live music and singing was performed at the Indian Independence Day celebration in August 2002 in Fremont, California. This was followed by another performance at the Himalayan Fair in Berkeley, California in May 2003. The audience at the Himalayan Fair appreciated the demonstration of the instruments, dance and costumes and an introduction to Assam and the relevance of Bihu in the Assamese way of life.

The pinnacle of achievement for this group this year was when they auditioned and were chosen to perform at the summer festival of dance hosted by Zingaris. Zingaris is an award winning Indian dance troupe based in Northern California. Their mission is to increase awareness of India's rich tradition of dance by staging high quality dance performances and in the process raise funds for worthy charitable causes. Their repertoire includes the entire spectrum of folk, fusion, classical and film pieces, reflecting the diversity inherent in Indian dance forms. For more information please visit www.zingaris.org.

On both July 19th and 26th, 2003 a nearly sold out crowd at Palo Alto, California, were enthralled to see Bihu being performed along with other dances from all over India. Bihu was the only dance where authentic Assamese instruments like Dhol, Taal, Pepa, Gogona and Toka were used to create the music with authentic Bihu attire like Sapkon, Dhoti, Gaamosa for the men and Muga Mekhala Sadar for the women complete with accessories such as Jaapi etc. The dance was performed in front of a backdrop, which typified an Assamese rural setting, complete with a village hut, banana trees and a bamboo fence. The audience thus was able to witness what a typical Assamese Bihu Toli would look like. The Bihu dance was very well received as can be perceived from some of the comments from the audience.

" Overall it (Bihu) was an awesome performance, and it did add to the variety and color of the Zingaris show. Keep it up guys, I wish I can do the same for some of the … dances which no one has every heard of. ….." - Arunjunan Manickavasagam, Intel Corp, Zingaris dancer.

"We thank you in helping us showcase some of the rare dances of India. Bihu was one of the best received dances and all your hard work was very obvious in this." - Nipa Sheth, Founder and President of Zingaris

"......your team's promptness, willingness to listen and take criticism in the right spirit are your biggest strengths... obviously after your talents in singing and dancing.." - Neeraj Mathur, Production lead for Zingaris show

"I thought Bihu was among the top two performances of the evening. The crowd reaction also reflected the same. For me personally this was the first opportunity to witness a Bihu dance. I liked the fact that everything was live including the song and music. The coordination and enthusiasm level was top notch among all Bihu performers." - P.V. Srinivas, former director of Magma-DA, Cupertino

"Your troupe (Bihu) did great on Saturday. ……. your item was authentic and really well done." - Shantha Ranganathan, Intel Corp, Bharathanatyam dancer

"I have never liked folk dances before. But after seeing Bihu, I have changed my opinion. You guys were great". - Gita Patil, Zingaris dancer

"You folks are doing so much for the northeast. Please continue to do this good work. I am so happy to see all this happening." - Arun Gupta, VP (Sales), Moksha Technologies Inc. and long time resident of Assam and Meghalaya (25 years)

Some other general comments:

“The live drums/band for the Bihu dance was original and creative. Loved their prop!”

“I must mention Bihu - it really was fascinating to see the group with their own music and dance and definitely was the most novel piece of the night.”

“I was very much impressed by the folk dances. They were both very lively and entertaining.”

These are just some of the baby steps taken by the group to keep the vision alive to popularize the Bihu dance. This group has been invited to perform at this year’s Indian Independence Day celebration as well as at a fund-raiser for the non-profit organization ASHA.

For pictures of the show at this years Zingaris Summer Festival of Dance go to http://pikespeak.uccs.edu/~jonaki/modules/gallery.