Cultural Dance Club's 'Festival of Flags' a Success

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The Cultural Dance Club held its second-ever performance, Festival of Flags with the Cultural Dance Club,  on the weekend of April 4 through 6 in St. Mary’s Hall.  Each dance number introduced the audience to music and choreography that originated from around the world.  The dancers enthusiastically joined the choreographers for an introduction dance at the opening of the show to David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s “Dancing in the Street.” Emcee Dylan Hadfield, a junior, introduced the eight unique dances by reading a brief overview of the origin of each dance.  Irish Step Dance, the first dance presented, was choreographed by Jenny Jones.  The energetic dance was a wonderful opening to the show.  First-year Caitlin Andrews, who participated in a few of the other dances as well as the Irish Step Dance, thought that the club was a great way to meet new people.  “There is a great support group within the club, and everyone was so enthusiastic to be a part of it,” Andrews recalled.  Even though she had no prior dance experience, she though that “it was a great experience because we had great instruction [from the choreographers].  If it weren’t for the choreographers, the show would not have been as successful as it was.  I would definitely do it again.”

The following performances, the Bengali Dance, the Afro-Peruvian Dance, and the Israeli Circle Dance, choreographed by first-year Unzila Chowdhury, Rocio Baldarrago (teaching assistant for Spanish for the Department of International Languages and Cultures), and first-year Rachel Solomon respectively, told a beautiful story through graceful movement and intricate steps.  First-year Unzila Chowdhury enjoyed the experience both as a choreographer and as a dancer. “As a choreographer, I had an amazing time getting to know all the wonderful people involved.  The show came together perfectly, and everyone did a great job.  We became like a family and helped each other represent our pride in our diverse cultures.”

There was an unmistakable close bond between the dancers, as shown through their excitement on stage. Even though most of the dancers were strangers to each other before they met through the club, a tight bond was developed between all the dancers throughout the rehearsals and practices during the semester.  First-year Sarah Didden thinks “the Cultural Dance Club has such welcoming members who made learning all the dances fun.”  Another first-year student, Julia Andreas, participated in several of the dances, hoping to learn more about the various cultures that were represented throughout the club’s show.  Andreas also enjoyed getting to know all the other dancers.  “It was great to get to know them because you have a chance to meet new people and make new friends with people you might not have met otherwise.  If you don’t take [the club] seriously, it all falls apart.  That’s why the slogan on the tickets was true – ‘those who sweat together, stick together,’” she explained.

As a part of intermission, a special dance was reserved for the senior students of the club, including Jessica Chen, the president of the club.  Each senior choose a song that was either their current favorite song or one that was meaningful during their childhood, and performed a few moves to a portion of their chosen song.  Even though Andreas will miss the seniors, “it was great to meet them while they were still here.  Meeting them certainly brightened my SMCM experience.”  The senior spotlight dance was a beautiful way to highlight each senior individually during their last performance with the Cultural Dance Show.

The second half of the show included the Palestinian Belly Dance, the American Swing Dance, the Chinese Umbrella Dance, and the Bollywood Dance, choreographed by junior Haley Rizkallah, sophomore Amanda Felkamp, senior Jessica Chen, and sophomore Anjana Venkatesan respectively, equally excited the crowd as a compilation of unique steps and props captured the audience’s attention.  All of the dancers were joined onstage with the choreographers for the Finale, which consisted of everyone dancing to a Pop-Culture Mash-Up.  This included a chance for all of the dances to share the spotlight with each other one last time before the show came a close.

The mix of modern and traditional music familiarized the audience to parts of cultures from around the world that they might not have been exposed to previously.  The show in its entirety created an unforgettable experience to anyone who attended.  Between the colorful costumes, music compilations, crew members, dancers, and the choreographers, the Cultural Dance show was surely a success.

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