Two weeks ago, a dance team named Rutgers University S.A.P.A. performed at a competition, Infusion 2016. This dance team had been a popular fusion dance team within the circuit and has been to many prestigious competitions. In February, my dance team UNC Chalkaa had the pleasure of competing with them. Each dance performance is required to have a theme to their performance through which they tell a story. For this season, RU S.A.P.A’s theme has been a twist on the Disney movie, Inside Out. Their version of the story involves a character named Kiran who is struggling with their gender identity and the mental health effects caused by bullying. The performance used the beloved Inside Out personas; Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear. The performance expresses the thoughts and emotions that a transgender individual has as they go through their lives and deal with the stigma of their gender identity and mental illness.
This performance really resonated with me because as a part of the South Asian community I know that mental health is often stigmatized if not completely ignored and this performance really brought this stigma to light. Moreover, the dialogue in the performance forced the audience to acknowledge their own preconceptions of mental illness. Furthermore, the impact of performances like this is very important because of the age demographic of the audience. Though some middle aged parents attend the competitions, a large portion of the audience is composed of college aged students. These students dictate the state of society in the future, so the mindset of this generation will be the mindset of society. This performance not only expressed the complexities of gender identity but also ignited a conversation that has been stifled for a very long time.