Over the past week, the Russian Studies Program and Brandeis Russian Club organized a series of events to celebrate Brandeis Russian Language and Culture Week 2024. On Wednesday, Mar. 6, the program and club hosted the annual Student Talent Show at the Rappaport Treasure Hall. A tradition since 2008, the Student Talent Show is dedicated to highlighting all talent; students do not need to speak Russian or be enrolled in Russian Studies to participate. This year’s show consisted of 14 acts and all but one were performed in Russian. The acts performed in Russian were composed of both Russian heritage and non-heritage speakers, and their material came from all over the post-Soviet world. 

The show opened with a statement reiterating that the Russian Studies Program and Brandeis Russian Club are emphatically anti-war and support Ukraine’s right to independence. Multiple posters with the Ukrainian flag and the words ‘no war’ written in Russian, English and Ukrainian were hung around the Rappaport Treasure Hall. Attendees of the event were encouraged to buy sunflower pins, stickers and pins with “no war” written in Ukrainian on them. All proceeds went toward helping Ukrainian refugees in Europe and displaced Ukrainians. The hope was that the music and humor in the show could bring the community together during this difficult time. Accordingly, all the songs performed had the themes of hope, peace, goodness and bright futures. 

The Brandeis Russian Club and RUS 106 performed “Everything will be Alright!” by Ukrainian drag queen Andriy Danylko to kickstart the night. Many of the other songs performed were very popular, and the crowd was encouraged to sing along. The students of RUS 39, the “Russian for Russian Speakers” course, included choreography with their rendition of “Dolce Gabbana” by Andriy Danylko. The two instrumental performances of the night were from Nancy Zhang ’26 on the piano and Zoe Potolsky ’26 on the violin. Additionally, a hilarious Russian fashion show was put on by Lev Sewald ’26, Sofia Conte ’26, Thomas Musser ’26 and Rachel Lavine ’26.   

Traditional Russian dishes were served, including Vinegret Salad, Olivier Salad with Chicken, Blinchiki with Beef, Plov with Chicken, and Israeli Salad due to its similarities to baba ganoush. In between the performances, the masters of ceremony, Berta Muza ’24 and Aeryn Rowe ’25, delightfully taught the crowd about different aspects of Russian history and culture. The Student Talent show also celebrated International Women’s Day and its significance in the post-Soviet world. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday celebrated for decades before the United Nations adopted it in 1975. The Student Talent Show adhered to tradition and had male participants at the door handing out a rose to every woman who arrived. These flowers included a lesson on ‘flower language’ urging caution against giving a loved one an even-numbered bouquet because of its bad luck or worse, gifting a yellow flower, which means separation and sadness. Overall, the event was a love letter to every aspect of Russian history and culture.