I Live for the Stage
Akash Majumdar, ’19
Vanderbilt Performing Arts Community
I live for the stage. Every time the curtains rise, I experience a surge of adrenaline combined with the desire to resonate with my audience.
While preparing to make the journey from Kolkata, India to Vanderbilt, I rummaged through Vanderbilt’s 500+ student organizations, trying to gauge my potential involvement with the performing arts. I wasn’t coming here just to navigate my way through Calc I and Gen Chem; I was coming in thirst of a new stage. I wasn’t disappointed.
Midway through my first week at Vanderbilt, I found myself sitting in Neely Auditorium at 6 PM, waiting to audition for an original devised Vanderbilt University Theatre (VUT) production called City of Songs. My faculty VUceptor, Dr Christin Essin, had mentioned the audition a few times in passing, and I decided to follow through with it. Two weeks later, I was sitting at the Panera Bread on 21st Ave S with the cast of City of Songs, planning out our plot and character arcs. After 6 weeks of rehearsals, we put on City of Songs to great reception.
Towards the beginning of September of the same semester, I decided to expand my horizons my getting involved in dance. I was a long way from home, but I found a piece of Vanderbilt that made me feel closer to home. I auditioned for the Vanderbilt BhangraDores, and was fortunate enough to be selected onto the team. Through the year, I learnt a completely new dance style, associated myself with the cultural aspects of the tradition, and found a family on campus through the medium of performing arts. In addition, I was able to travel, compete and represent Vanderbilt on the national Bhangra competition circuit.
At the end of my first semester, I realized the lack of singing in my life. I had been learning Hindustani Classical vocals for 12 years, and wanted a platform to start performing it again. I was skeptical of the prospect of bringing such a specific art form to campus, but Vanderbilt, yet again, surprised me with how open and accepting it was. I restarted an organization, Vandy Taal, that had previously existed on campus, with a revamped, fresh new mission. It would remain an a cappella team, but it would bring a new flavor to its performances by reaching into the roots of traditional Indian music. Today, a year of late night practices and community building later, we are travelling to Pittsburgh for our first national competition.
To allow Taal greater exposure on campus, and increased opportunities to collaborate with other performing arts group on campus, I applied for Taal to become a part of Vanderbilt Performing Arts Community (VPAC). As I presented Taal to VPAC’s executive board, I realized that there was potential for me to affect a greater community of performers. In that presentation, I learned that more than 30 organizations like VUT and the BhangraDores were a part of VPAC, and that the executive board for VPAC created new, creative performance opportunities for all its members on a regular basis. This motivated me to apply for a board position, and fortunately, I was selected to serve as Seasonal Showcase Co-Chair.
As Seasonal Showcase Co-Chair, I had the unique opportunity to organize showcases that allowed VPAC organizations exposure to the wider Vanderbilt community, whether it be through a beginning of the year showcase like Spotlight, or lunchtime performances through monthly Main Attractions. This aligned with my career goals, as in the future, I would like to create a music production company that provides a barrier-free platform for musical expression.
As a member of VPAC, I was able to interact with hundreds of peers and learn about their passions for the performing arts. Whether it was as a singer, dancer or an actor, I was able to share my enthusiasm for the performing arts with others like me. As a VPAC executive board member, I was able to play a part in providing them with a stage. Having first-hand experience of the rush that is associated with the rising of curtains, I was glad to make my contribution. I was glad to perform alongside fervently passionate artists in my community.
I was glad to make Vanderbilt my stage.