Penn Masti: An Ethnography on Penn’s Premier Co-ed South Asian Fusion Dance Troupe
The University of Pennsylvania is host to a variety of different student groups. With a total population of around 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students, it also boasts one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country. Within this landscape, a particular attention to one South Asian performing arts group is our focus. Penn Masti, Penn’s premier co-ed South Asian Fusion dance troupe is unique not only for the styles of dance they perform and the incorporation of both masculine and feminine forms of dance (unlike many of its counterparts) but it is also an example of a group that has achieved markedly high levels of growth and success in a very short timeframe. This paper attempts use an interdisciplinary analysis to understand the causes and sources for this growth through an ethnographic lens (mainly through participant observation and one-on-one interviews). Essentially, Masti is an organization wherein power and influence can be utilized through the management of members’ desires subsequently creating an avenue for certain individuals to impact the team’s future direction and that the continued growth of the team will require a distinction between individual desires and the specific components necessary for the team’s growth in the long term.