Culture X mixes a variety of traditions
When asked what the annual event and this year's theme, "the world is our stage," meant to her, coordinator Sriya Srikrishnan '12 remarked in the introductory video, "Culture X is a big, cultural smoothie." Her statement would prove to be a very accurate description of what the event held in the Levin Ballroom on Saturday night had in store for its sold-out audience.
Coordinating Culture X was an all-senior team composed of Karen Hu, Yvonne Perez, Yeiri Robert, Alison Uliss and Srikrishnan, whose introductory video also featured University President Frederick Lawrence (who attended the event), Associate Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams and various student leaders.
The coordinators also announced that whatever money was raised by selling T-shirts and Indian samosas during intermission would be donated to SOUL: School of Unity & Liberation, which is located in California but does work all around the country. According to the printed program, SOUL "seeks to promote cultural awareness and diversity in society through educating and training the voice of our future: children." At the end of the night, it was announced that the event had raised over $300 for the charity.
The first performer to take to the stage was singer and guitarist Ayan Sanyal '14, who sang an original song titled "Wonder-Esque (Someone Like You)." Sanyal filled up Levin with his powerful voice, starting the night off on a good note. A huge crowd favorite was the So Unique Step Dance Team, which caused many audience members to enthusiastically cheer and shout the names of the students on the stage. The team's synchronization, even through progressively complicated step patterns, was remarkable.
Another crowd favorite was the act titled "Blast to the Past," where six seniors-Monisha Rajinikanth, Liz Watson, Sriya Srikrishnan, Siddhi Krishna, Ramya Kuchibhatla and Christine Scarlata-dressed in traditional Indian dance outfits and energetically moved to a medley of popular American and Indian '90s music. The group radiated an infectious sense of fun as the dancers seamlessly transitioned from songs by the Backstreet Boys to Britney Spears to the Spice Girls to equally catchy Indian pop songs with the moves to match.
Members from this act were seen again in Brandeis bhangra team Chak De Deis' performance, which was introduced by emcee D'Andre Young '15 as a high-energy folk dance. The first part of the dance was set to a mix of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and "Punjab" by E=MC featuring Jaswant Sanghiawala, which worked surprisingly well together. The dancers were tireless, despite the never-ceasing speed of their steps. Toward the end, Hyder Kazmi '12 burst out of the curtains in front of the stage to finish the routine with them, which brought the audience to its feet.
The band Bolsa Nova-composed of a bass guitar, alto saxophone, cello, acoustic guitar, drum and two singers-played a beautiful song that was notable for its unique sound and for how each instrument seemed to steal the melody away from another one in a seamless blend.
In a change of pace from the dance numbers and musical performances were Kazmi, Wajida Syed '12 and Ashni Dave '12 who performed slam poetry in a way I had never seen it done. Each of them started with a story or personal anecdote that seemed to have nothing to do with the others, but bit by bit, they each began chiming in with the others' words, and they all ended on the line, "When we are finally standing still, we are dancing." The beauty of their stories enthralled me, as did the power and emotion with which they spoke.
The Women of Color Alliance made its Culture X debut to loud approval from the audience. Dancing to a medley of songs starting with BeyoncÃ©'s "Love on Top" and ending with her "Run the World (Girls)," the performers of WOCA brought down the house with their fierce attitude and hard-hitting dance moves.
And ending the night with equally strong moves was the always crowd-pleasing Kaos Kids, whose number had the theme of "fairytale gone wrong." Stephanie Ramos '14 was particularly impressive as the evil queen, even though the "good" dancers triumphed over her at the end of the routine.
Through the variety of acts displayed in Levin on Saturday, the theme of the night held true as Brandeisians brought the cultures of the world to our stage.
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