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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Culture X astounds audiences

Published: April 27, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc., Top Stories

Every spring, Culture X brings a combination of the campus’ best dance, music and spoken word groups to a common stage. And there was no exception last Saturday as a sold-out crowd watched this year’s “Culture X: The World is Our Stage” performance in Levin Ballroom. It’s easy to forget the incredible talents students have amid textbooks and exams, but the performances that night were an amazing display of artistic expression; 25 acts and almost three hours later, the audience walked away with a new appreciation for student talent.

The dance performances were so impressive that two of them received standing ovations from the audience. Brandeis Bhangra and the Women of Color Alliance both had incredible performances, injecting the crowd with energy and fascinating the audience with their talent and enthusiasm. Bhangra performed an Indian dance that involved a lot of jumping and quick footwork. The smiles on the dancers’ faces had the audience laughing along with them. Toward the end, Hyder Kazmi ’12 ran onto the floor below the stage as a surprise.

Culture X was the first performance of the newly formed Women of Color Alliance, and it was a testament to their hard work and personality that it was such a success. Wearing vibrant colors and dancing to Beyoncé, WOCA dancers were the most spirited performers of the night. They looked confident and proud of themselves, as they rightly should have been. They left the stage to a roar of applause.

Other dance performances were excellent too. So Unique Step Team made their own music by clapping their hands and stamping their feet, using an amusing skit as the background story for their steps. The group dynamics made the performance funny and enjoyable to watch, but the speed at which they moved showed their true talent. Adagio and Haiti Initiative were both calmer performances, but they added their own unique beauty to the evening. The gracefulness of the dancers gave their movements fluidity.

KSA and BAASA had strong performances: Students danced to the intricate choreography with precision and energy.

Brandeis Breakdance Club showed the community their incredible talent, which was complete with choreography that included spinning on their heads, tumbling across the stage, flipping over each other and spinning on their hands. Their bodies appeared to defy gravity. Kaos Kids closed the show with an amazing act. The dancers were perfectly in time, and they moved faster and were more flexible than it seemed to be possible.

There were a few strong spoken word performances. Performers put their hearts into their words, bringing the words to life with their vocal inflections. The most impressive performance was by rapper Saz.É (Osaze Akerejah ’14). His lyrics were more mature than I would ever expect from a college student: The entire rap was about how much he is “soon to be a black father, can’t help but want a pretty black daughter.” I can’t imagine that most students are even thinking about how they want to be parents or how to hold their children’s hands yet, but even so, that is what Saz.É rapped about. His lyrics were moving as he exclaimed how he wanted to show his daughter a beautiful and happy world, protecting her innocence and knowing that she will be “smart.”

Although most acts were polished and smooth, there were a few groups that did not quite live up to the rest. Ballroom Formation Team was one such group. The whole performance just seemed awkward, as if none of the dancers were comfortable on stage. The female dancers were significantly better than their male counterparts, if only because they had more confidence and were in time. The stage didn’t seem big enough and it looked like they were running into each other. The choreography was interesting with the dancers spinning and the boys catching the girls but, at times, it seemed as if a few girls were almost dropped. The Brandeis Argentine Tango Society also had an underwhelming performance. Dancing as quickly as they did in high heels is impressive, but the posture of the dancers and their hesitant faces took away from the performance.

This year, several groups were cut from the Culture X program during auditions, and some were groups that were always traditionally presented in the performances. The 25 large groups already made the evening long, but perhaps some of the groups could have been shortened or perhaps people in the groups that were cut could have been added to the groups scheduled to perform. It was unfortunate that such an exciting night left some talented students out, but a four-hour performance would not likely be appreciated.

Culture X was a wonderful performance that highlighted the talent of Brandeis students beyond the classroom. Stephanie Lee ’13, co-president of BAASA, said, “Culture X is a good opportunity for lots of people to come together to share their talent.” Vicky Lee ’13 added, “It allows us to celebrate our culture and what we love to do. The best part was bonding with my group … and messing up together.” The performances on Saturday night proved just how well a diverse community can come together to put on an incredible show.