Culture X showcases diverse student talent

April 30, 2018

The Brandeis community celebrated diversity and the end of the semester with the stunning performances at Culture X, an annual show co-sponsored by the Intercultural Center and the Gender and Sexuality Center.

Host Kwesi Jones ’21 hyped up the crowd with an infectious enthusiasm that came to define the event. He and the Culture X e-board introduced this year’s theme of “One Love: Between the Crossroads,” a spirit of acceptance and unity which brought an uplifting and welcoming feel to the show.

The performances started with a piece from the Waltham-based Afro-Diamonds, a group of dancers choreographed by Bridget Kamanzi. The young group gave a glimpse of African cultures with fierce dance movements and remarkable synchronization. They made a strong impression with intricate face paint and different styles of dance, which earned them roaring applause.

The Afro-Diamonds were followed by the Classic Indian Ensemble, who performed a number of musical numbers set to the hum of traditional Indian music. Inspired by themes of body positivity and the classic Indian dance form Bharatanatyam, they created a colorful performance with bangles and bindis.

Angela Mendez ’18 delivered two powerful slam poems in the next act about her “Chicana experience.” Her pieces were brief, but powerful. She spoke emotionally about her experiences with code switching, aggressive americanization and xenophobia, and ended with the confident statement: “My flame will never be tamed.”

After Mendez, dancers of the Toxic Majorette Dance Line performed showed off their impressive flexibility and artistic skill to the beat of Drake tracks like “God’s Plan.”

Next up was Brandeis’ Formation Ballroom Dance Team, who flaunted their dance expertise with samples of the Jive, Cha Cha Cha and Samba, moving to Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” and Lou Bega’s “Sweet Like Cola.”

Following ballroom’s showing, the Rebelle dance team gave an energetic and flashy display of Afro-Caribbean moves, rushing on stage with international flags as capes and beaming smiles.

The Brandeis Ballet enticed the audience with choreography set to cellist Zoe Keating’s piece, “Optimist.” Donning tie-dye dresses, the dancers’ performed fluid leaps and graceful spins as the soft cello played.

Chak De, a coed Bollywood fusion dance team, showed a strong sense of camaraderie in their skilled dance techniques during their fast and fun performance.

One man show Eli Kengamana, the last act before intermission, wowed the audience with a special form of guitar called percussive fingerstyle. His song was inspired by a drawing, which he asked the audience to picture in their heads as he both plucked and drummed his guitar.

Act two began with hip-hop dance crew Kaos Kids, whose playlist sounded like a video game soundtrack. The large group practically filled the stage as they moved, with one of the most exciting moments coming when some members held another upside down as she danced.

Bethel Adekogbe ‘20, also known as Bethlehem the Producer, commanded control of the Culture X stage with a track called Crossroads, which he created alongside Jerome B. and Mack, a proud alumni. He and stage partner Marcelo Brociner ’18 rapped in tandem to the original music in a charged up performance, receiving an enthusiastic reaction from the audience.

Brandeis Stop Motion, an act that originated at Culture X in 2014, danced to the song “Clique” by Jay-Z, showing off their passion for dance and individual flair.

Nan An ’21 followed Stop Motion with a sweet-sounding guitar solo of traditional Chinese music. The traditional fingerstyle, which excluded words, put emphasis on An’s guitar strumming.

Platinum Step put on an empowered showing of their inimitable dance style wearing tough facial expressions and athletic shorts. After cues from Kyra Frazier ’21, the team burst into a sequence of slapping and stepping. They stunned the crowd as they used their bodies as instruments, but kept their performance light-hearted with jokes about Ultimate Fighting Championship stars.

The next performers, XL dance team, sought to make their passion for dancing “extra large,” looking effortlessly cool in dark bomber jackets as they displayed a variety of pop dance moves as well as girl power.

The penultimate act Poetic Justice, which consisted of five student poets, delivered a powerful joint poem about mental health and its surrounding stigmas. They sounded off on the pressures they faced from families who did not face the reality of the issue.

Finally, Brandeis Bhangra’s Punjabi folk dancers claimed the stage for the last act. Dressed in colorful outfits, the performers moved to a tracklist which included an energetic mix of modern and folk songs. As the show came to an end, they released rainbow confetti into the audience, giving a colorful end to the exciting night.

Editor’s Note: Editor-in-Chief Hannah Schuster and Features Editor Polina Potochevska performed in Culture X with the Ballet Company.

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