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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Culture X marks the spot!

Published: April 15, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

Culture X can always be counted on to provide Brandeis with a glimpse into the diversity that characterizes our campus. With its eclectic mix of song, dance and poetry, this year’s show, presented last Saturday in Levin Ballroom, certainly did not disappoint.

The evening began with the four members of the Culture X committee—Ann Nin Wong ’11, Divya Kanneganti ’11, Karen Hu ’12 and Akash Vadalia ’12—introducing this year’s theme, “Up, Up and Away!” This theme had been chosen in order to emphasize the quality of this year’s performances.

While this year’s performances were certainly of sterling quality, the majority of them were also linked by their exploration of the relationship between the modern and traditional. A sizable percentage of the show’s 22 performances organized themselves thematically around this dichotomy. Many of these proved to be among the show’s highlights.

Dhoom began the trend early in the evening by coupling modern songs with traditional Indian dance. Their performance began with a Justin Bieber impersonator taking the stage and jamming to “Baby” before the rest of the group took over and injected the performance with a new flavor. They were clearly influenced by the kind of joyful dancing that characterizes Bollywood.

Later in the first act, members of the Korean Student Association (KSA) performed an elaborate fan dance that awed the crowd. Initially, the students performed individually before they joined their fans together, creating quite a spectacular sight. The gracefulness of the fan dance was subsequently joined by hip-hop dancing more reflective of modern Korean youth.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the performance given by the Southeast Asian Club (SEAC), which closed this year’s show. Their elaborately-staged performance told the story of a newly-married prince escorting his bride through a jungle. The couple’s entourage follows closely behind, dancing between sticks while holding umbrellas. Though the SEAC performance required the participation of a large number of students, their dancing was well-choreographed and its dancers were attired in beautiful costumes. Like Dhoom and KSA, they subsequently transitioned to something more contemporary, with those in traditional dress being joined on stage by students in hoodies and t-shirts.

Other groups presented purely traditional performances that also captivated the crowd.

The African Dance Club presented a festive dance from Mali, traditionally used by young people to welcome guests.

Other Brandeis students also showed their proficiency in various talents.

The saxophone quartet Sax Appeal performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” enlivening their performance with some killer dance moves. Half of its members dressed as zombies, while the others donned ’80s-appropriate garb.

The Brandeis Swingers also revived the 1920s with their impressive swing dancing act.

Kaos Kids, meanwhile, gave perhaps the most intricate performance of the night. The hip-hop team mixed their creative stylings with a fun circus theme.

Two students decided to forego a group presentation and instead flew solo. Amanda Dryer ’13 presented the spoken word poem “Truth: A Letter to My Zadie,” written in the voice of her grandfather, a Holocaust survivor. Osaze Akerejah ’14 also rapped on stage under the pseudonym Saz. É.

Other standouts included ¡Ahora!, So Unique Step Team and LUKE.

All in all, it was a night not to be missed, and I know some in the crowd were already anticipating next year’s Culture X.