Bengali FON: celebrating the old and showcasing the new


Samira Li

The Bengali FON leaders.

HTML tutorial

As the second semester kicks off, one of Townsend Harris High School’s highly anticipated events is in full swing: the Festival of Nations (FON). This year’s Bengali FON leaders, senior Nowyshin Mridula and sophomores Adrita Dey and Sithi Das shared their plans for the show with The Classic.

This is Adrita and Sithi’s first year leading and second year participating in the FON, while Nowyshin’s been leading this FON since 2021.

Having support from underclassmen directors has helped, Nowyshin said: “There is obviously a heavy workload [as a senior] with two college courses, rigorous courses, and club responsibilities, but I found it hardest to teach dances during my senior trip and when my QC elective meet.” Her co-leads were able to cover for her when she needed time, she said. While it was hectic, Sithi said that “it’s all part of the process which makes this experience all the more beautiful.”

To compensate for the different dance styles of all the leaders, Bengali FON will be split into three categories led by one leader each. Unlike in the past, the leaders this year want to tell a story with their dances to “show the history and culture of Bangladesh.” As Adrita began to put together her part of the FON focused on classical/folk dance styles, she found herself drawing inspiration from her younger self’s dance journey, making the choreography both playful and mature.

Sithi’s category highlights the historical dances of this culture. She said that a challenge in choreographing was adjusting the dance to fit the skill level of her members. She wanted everyone to feel included and enjoy themselves, she said.

Nowyshin will be leading the modern section that consists of contemporary and hip hop styles of dance. She hopes that her dancers will enjoy the contrast between the “elegant feminine moves” and the “energetic moves” in the dances.

Compared to past years, Bengali FON has grown significantly. Nowyshin recalled that during her first year leading, there were only about 13 people in the FON. Now, it has grown to about 40 people. Nowyshin said they are a “small but strong group.”

Recounting her personal memories, Sithi said, “FON is special to me cause it allowed me to become more open to more people and also gave me probably the best memories from freshman year.”

Freshman Shayera Mourin joined Bengali FON this year and is the only freshman in the group. She said all the leaders are “hardworking and dedicated” and appreciate their efforts to make her feel included. Sophomore Ariyan Abdin is returning for his second year in FON and said he noticed that “[the leaders] face a lot of struggles getting people to come to practice and making sure they know the dances.” Sophomore Apurbo Haider said that, “The leaders have made Bengali FON a very comfortable experience for someone like me who’s new to the scene.”

Adrita, Sithi and Nowyshin strive to put on a great show and hope that this year’s FON will be a memorable one for them and their audience. Nowyshin said she can sum up this year’s Bengali FON performance in a quote from American Singer Utah Phillips: “Sing your song; Dance your dance; Tell your story. I will listen and remember.”