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Culture X sheds light on the extraordinary talent at Brandeis

By Vinh Nguyen

Section: Arts

April 26, 2013

Culture X made its annual return to Brandeis last Saturday to once again dazzle the stage of Levin Ballroom. This year, the venue was more packed than it has ever been, and the stage has never been as lit up by the bright talents of Brandeis students as it was this year. Brandeis alumni and students alike have given the show such acclaims as the “best ever” and “most successful.” This year’s theme was “Light Up The Night” and Culture X 2013 truly accomplished this through the diversity it brilliantly showcased.

To set up the theme, Alex Esakof ’16 opened the program with his swirling light show. Swinging glowing orbs around him, Esakof wowed the audience with his colorful display and the concentric shapes made from swinging the orbs. AHORA! took the stage next and continued to add momentum to the night with their energetic presentation of “Bachata en Fukuoka.” The performance mesmerized the audience as they moved with Latin flare and smooth movements on stage.

Some of the most memorable and show-stopping performances of the night were the cultural dances. Southeast Asia Club (SEAC) charmed audiences with their tinikling dance. The tinikling dance originates from Philippine traditions and involves two people sliding and beating a set of long bamboo poles horizontally on the ground. The dancers move simultaneously in and out of the bamboo poles in precision with the beat. SEAC captivated the audience with this traditional dance, and their choice to incorporate modern music made the performance all the more fun.

The Bharatanatyam, or Indian classical dance, was another exciting piece of the show. Performed by Niv Baskaran ’15, Shalini Gingipally ’15, Sathvy Reddy ’15, Lekha Grandhi ’16, and Pooja Gupta ’16, these students impressively shed light on this cultural dance with their intricate movements. Dancing in traditional costumes, the ladies used delicate hand shapes to expressively phrase thoughts and gestures that made the dance all the more special. TSA’s presentation of “On the Mountain Top” was another remarkable piece with the explosive formations of their Aboriginal storytelling dance.

Besides dancing, a cappella groups Manginah and the debut of The Namjas (Korean for “Guys” featuring Will Cheon ’15 and James Lee ’13 with Clarence Lee ’15 accompanying on guitar) and KSA’s premiere of their own a cappella group “Rhythm Blues & Seoul.” So Unique brought the tradition of stomp with their incredibly upbeat, rowdy and sassy performance. Women of Color Alliance (WOCA) also gave energy and spunk as they took the audience back in time with their retro-inspired dances of previous decades.

KAOS Kids used the clever idea of channel surfing to showcase their myriad dancing skills and styles. Their isolations were on point and their choreography was cleaner than ever. Brandeis Bhangra was the last to perform, but their colorful costumes and high-energy dance really brought Levin Ballroom to its feet.

It must be noted that the success of Culture X this year was the result of the collective passion of five students: a Chair Team comprising of Shaquan Perkins ’13, ShuMay Williams ’13, Julie Yu ’13, Jennifer Kim ’14 and Bridgette Tran ’14 as well as numerous volunteers. Student MCs Naya Stevens ’16 and D’Andre Young ’15 kept the audience excited and pumped in between performances and through occasional technical difficulties.

The colors black and gold echoed throughout the show from the luminous backdrop to the outfits of the MCs and coordinators. Indeed, even more precious than gold was the intimate experience shared between performer and audience and between culture and culture, which truly made Culture X 2013 a night to never forget.

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