The annual Culture X event created excitement throughout campus as students eagerly anticipated the amazing variety of talents that Brandeis has to offer. On Saturday, April 16 at 6 p.m. the Levin Ballroom housed a lively crowd as Culture X Arise began with opening speeches from the Culture X chair members Yeng Her ’16, Harlharrissa Lagardere ’16, Estela Lozano ’16 and Joy Zhang ’17. Culture X is a part of the Intercultural Center (ICC) and “seeks to celebrate the diversity that exists within the Brandeis community.” This year’s theme was ARISE, chosen “to represent our strives to move forward as a community.”
The primary type of performance throughout the night was dance, and Brandeisians certainly delivered. Several dances were traditional forms of cultural dance including the BKSA Fan Dance, BNAT, Rebelle, Zapateado and Brandeis Bhangra. The BKSA Fan dance is a traditional dance of Korea featuring brightly colored fans decorated with flowers and emphasizing the colors green, white and pink. The dance is meant to represent nature and originates from both shamanic dance and from the court of the Joseon Dynasty. Rebelle’s traditional Afro-Caribbean dance was high energy and rocked the stage with their riveting performance. It also held a special meaning as it symbolized “Umoja” which is the spirit of Togetherness. The last performance of the night, Brandeis Bhangra, ended Culture X Arise with the biggest routine, complete with bursts of colored powder and amazingly synchronized movements that had the audience dancing in their seats. Bhangra is a dance group which performs the style of dance originating from northern India in the Punjab state.
Carmen Landaverde ’19, a dancer for Rebelle, said, “My experience performing in the show was one like no other. I don’t normally like being on stage—I’m more of a behind the scenes type of person, but Linda Phiri ’16 pulled me into dance with Rebelle after seeing me dance at the library party. Working with everyone was truly amazing. We all went so hard during the performance, and hearing the crowd cheer while we danced kept us going until the end. Everyone’s hard work and passion in their dance and culture just made this experience even more memorable. To me, it seemed like finally there was a show that displayed the pool of diversity this campus can start to offer. I can’t wait to see what next year’s Culture X will bring, and I’ll always keep my seniors Linda, MacRegga [Severe] ’16 and Tawanna [Johnson] ’16 in mind while dancing.”
Dong-Min Sung ’19, a dancer for Stop Motion and BKSA KPOP, also shared his experience. “I think Culture X was our best show in the semester. I remember how many people cheered after our performance and it made me feel encouraged that people appreciated and enjoyed our dance performance.” Also sharing her thoughts on performing in Culture X as a part of Manginah is Mira Pomerantz ’18, who says, “Participating in Culture X was great because we got to perform for people who aren’t usually exposed to Jewish culture. The audience was always extremely enthusiastic and cheering loudly for everyone’s performances.”
The traditional dances gave the audience insight into the different cultural performance styles of other countries, but there were still so many other dance groups that gave outstanding performances in modern dance, including BKSA KPOP, Platinum Step Team, Stop Motion, Hooked on Tap, Toxic, Adagio, Ballroom Dance Team and Swing Dance Team. The Platinum Step Team’s rhythmic beat and near-perfect synchronization displayed the hard work and discipline that went into their routine. They also put an interesting twist on their performance by “stepping” off the stage and down the middle of the ballroom, exiting through the doors behind the audience. Toxic, a relatively new group representing a style of dance originating in the South called majorette, gave an awesome performance, demonstrating their endurance, flexibility and their ability to effortlessly coordinate with each other on stage.
Finally, there were also several non-dance performances that shone in their own light, leaving the audience with the complete picture of Culture X and all it embodies. These included JNJ, a group dedicated to showing love and support to underrepresented groups in society, Priya DeBerry ’17, who delivers impressive renditions of modern songs on the violin, and Mackalani Mack ’16, Brandon Ferrier ’18, and Joel Burt-Miller ’16, “a group of homies who love music and love to perform.” The Brandeis Traditional Music Club also delivered a fascinating performance utilizing a diverse collection of different cultural instruments, as their club’s unique feature is “to perform traditional music of different countries, adding modern elements, to create original music based on traditional music by combining various kinds of traditional instruments.”