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The Faces Behind Eleganza

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Harvard chapter.

Eleganza is a fashion show that combines music, movement and style in the name of diversity and charity. We got to chat with the impressive bunch behind the largest student-run event at Harvard University: Preeti Srinivasan, Haylee Smith, and Nancy Liu!

Tell us a bit about yourself: what class and house you’re in, what your concentration is, and how you would describe your style!

Preeti: My name is Preeti Srinivasan, and I’m a junior living in Lowell House. I study Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology with a secondary in Economics (but we all joke that we actually concentrate in Ganza, so there’s that). I’m definitely a classic girly-girl, and my style was once described as “princess preppy with a side of badass.” I think I’m still trying to figure out what that means… I did a lot of theatrical costuming in high school, so if you open my closet you’ll find anything from tiaras to combat boots.

Haylee: I’m in the Class of 2017 in Leverett House and I am concentrating in History and Science. My fashion style has developed to be a little more minimalist when it comes to daily clothing. I love black, white, and grey with statement pieces in a rich color or great pattern. In a few words, I’d say classic with a bit of a twist.

Nancy: I am a Junior in Pfoho studying Economics with a secondary in East Asian Studies! My personal style is clean, polished, and feminine. I enjoy color blocking, bold statement pieces, and heeled-anything (struggles of being only 5 2″!) My friends/people I bump into throughout the day like to joke that I always look like I’m headed to an event (when most likely I just finished with class and was headed home for a nap)!

What are some other extracurricular activities you are involved with on campus?

Preeti: Besides devoting my life to Eleganza, I’m a Tour Guide for Harvard Admissions, which I absolutely love to pieces. I’m a Director of Harvard Relay For Life, and do a lot with Lean In, the Lowell House Committee and Programming Committee, and Harvard’s Life Sciences Student Advisory Board. Beyond extracurriculars here on campus, I also do a lot of research in the psychology department and over at Harvard Business School, so if I’m not running from meeting to meeting you can usually find me eating sushi at HBS.

Haylee: This year I was involved in CityStep which teaches Cambridge middle schoolers dance. We just had our final show called “Passport to CityStep” and the kids performed so well! I do the photography and graphic design for CityStep and help out with any other production tasks that are needed.

Nancy: Aside from Eleganza, I’m on the Board of Directors for Harvard Student Agencies, and a member of Theta and Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business.

Describe Eleganza in one short sentence!

Preeti: Magic. I remember watching Eleganza for the first time and realizing that I was watching literal magic happening on stage – from that moment, I knew I was getting involved as much as I possibly could.

Haylee: Eleganza is magic!

Nancy: “Ganza before everything”–Our motto this year

What was your role in organizing Eleganza? Were there any challenges in your role?

Preeti: Last year I was Production Chair, and this year as an Executive Producer I run the Production and Publicity Boards. What that basically means is that I take care of our beautiful photoshoots and social media presence, while also managing the logistics and operations that go into the lighting, sound, and set of a large-scale production. That’s my “official role,” but my Production Chair and Publicity Chair are amazing at their jobs, so my unofficial role in Eleganza is to be the Eleganza Mom – I provide hugs, snacks, and lots of love to the entire Ganza Family.

Haylee: I’m the Executive Producer specifically over Fashion and Scene (our choreographers). I select people for our teams, call and meet with fashion sponsors, hold model auditions, conduct fittings, and attend all rehearsals. The most challenging thing is managing the time and the people. We have such a large board and group of models that it’s hard to work with scheduling and making sure everyone is having a good time.

Nancy: Within Eleganza, I am most directly involved with the finance and community service committees. I also manage all the internal finances of the organization so Haylee and Preeti like to dub me the “money one”.

Talk a little bit about the charity Eleganza partners up with and why it is important to you.

Preeti: We partner with the Boston Center For Teen Empowerment, and I think it’s important because Teen Empowerment (or TE for short) perfectly aligns with Eleganza’s message of diversity. I don’t think I realized until college how important diversity is in all of its forms, and I’m so proud to be supporting an organization that works towards the goals of diversity and empowerment every single day.

Haylee: Teen Empowerment is a fantastic organization that aims to empower youth to make social and urban changes in their community. It’s so important because teenagers can make a positive difference and become leaders of their community. My parents and teachers empowered me growing up and I think it’s very important that we continue to empower teens to make social change.

Nancy: Teen Empowerment is particularly close to my heart because I was the Community Service chair last year and it has been incredible to see how our relationship has grown within just the past year. This year, we brought the teens onto campus several times for a bonding/mentorship program as well as to attend our Model Date Auction. It has been fantastic getting to know them on a personal level.

How is this year’s production different from previous years?

Preeti: You’ll have to come to the show to find out. ;) But seriously, I think this show is going to be absolutely amazing, because Nancy, Haylee, and I all bring very different skill sets, personalities, and ideas to the table. We’re also blessed to have an amazingly talented board, and I think all of that hard work and passion is going to come through when you see the explosion of talent on stage.

Haylee: This year’s production has been incredibly rewarding. This year we added a lot of new faces to our board and models and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more people here on campus through Eleganza. We wanted to do more photo shoots, more fundraising for Teen Empowerment, and have an even more diverse organization.

Nancy: Eleganza is much bigger this year! Bigger board, bigger initiatives, bigger publicity! It has been such a blessing to inherit an organization with so much history and presence on campus. We’ve really tried to leverage the Eleganza brand in sponsorship outreach and fundraising. We also tried to remain relevant on campus throughout the year, not just show week! With our new blog featuring board member spot lights, blogposts on model auditions, etc., we try to share Eleganza with the whole Harvard community.  Lastly, as I mentioned above, we have definitely taken strides to grow our relationship with Teen Empowerment beyond just a donor. 

Why should people come see Eleganza? What are you most excited to show the audience?

Preeti: What I love about Eleganza is that it brings together things from worlds that don’t seem to have a natural connection – our three pillars are diversity, charity, and fashion. I think we’ve done a great job at strengthening those pillars while also bringing new aspects to the show every single year.

As for what I’m most excited to show the audience, I can’t reveal the theme of this year’s show but let’s just say that I’m REALLY excited about it. It’s a plot line that I know really well, and I’m so excited to watch one of my favorite stories being brought to life in front of thousands of people!

Haylee: I have heard so many freshmen say they chose Harvard after they saw Eleganza during Visitas weekend. Eleganza is not only a spectacular fashion and dance performance, but a great showcase of the diversity of Harvard. Our models and board members have worked so incredibly hard on this show and we’re all very excited to show Harvard what we have been working on for the past year.

Nancy: Because there truly is nothing like it! Not just at Harvard but probably any campus. Eleganza is an amazing display of fashion, dance, and diversity. I’m particularly excited to show the pre-freshmen what Harvard has to offer!

Anything else you would like to add?

Preeti: We regularly use the hashtag #GanzaAboveEverything (for example, #GanzaAboveFood, #GanzaAboveMyBody, #GanzaAboveSleep…). What is sleep anyway, right??

harvard contributor