Culture Show hits the mark

With dazzling and original pageantry, “Extravaganza Extraordinaire: The 15th Annual Culture Show” seasoned Duncan McArthur Auditorium with a zesty international flavour this past Saturday evening.

Organized each spring by the African and Caribbean Students Association (ACSA) the Culture Show allows the various ethnic and cultural groups at Queen’s to give their peers a taste of their own individual backgrounds. Festooned in multi-coloured paper chains and tissue-paper flowers, the auditorium’s decor paralleled the jovial spirit of the evening’s events.

The show opened with a rousing presentation from ACSA entitled “Lord’s Prayer,” and then quickly segued into several other dance numbers and a poetry reading. The Queen’s Arab Students Association (QASA) garnered an enthusiastic response during its rendition of the traditional Lebanese dance, the Dabke. Alison Crawford lent her voice to a bilingual performance of “Reflection,” the song made popular by the Disney film Mulan.

One of the evening’s highlights was the sixth act of the show, “Maglalatik,” performed by Queen’s Philippine Cultural Association, (QPHIL) which provided an exciting experience for both the eyes and ears. With coconut shells strapped to various parts of their bodies, the dancers struck the hard shells in unison while performing a combination of traditional Filipino and modern dance moves. Briefly switching gears a few acts later, ACSA offered a fashion show featuring the “hottest urban fashions of today.” Two of the most exciting performances of the evening closed the first half of the show: Queen’s Indian Student’s Associaton’s (QISA) “Aaja Sade Naal Khel” and the Step Team’s traditional gumboot dance. QISA’s elaborate performance combined several different styles of dance, including ballet, bhangra, hip hop, Hindi and traditional Indian dancing while impressing the audience with bright and lovely costumes. The Step Team’s traditional gumboot dance displayed such rhythm and intensity that even Stomp’s Savion Glover would be impressed, I’d wager.

The show switched gears again with a performance by the Caledonias, a female a capella group that specializes in contemporary music and excellent harmonies. The Spanish and Latin American Students Association (SALSA) served up a spicy and sexy blend of meringue and salsa dance moves, and by the end of their act, many audience members began mumbling wishes that they too could master the art of Latin dance.

Other second-half highlights were the Iranian Student Association’s (ISAQU) “Persian Invasion” and the Caribbean Dance group’s “Caribbean Idol.” “Persian Invasion” featured traditional Persian moves and a jaw dropping series of back flips by one of the dancers, and to conclude the evening’s program, the audience was treated to a Caribbean-flavoured parody of the popular American Idol television program. The diversity of cultures at Queen’s demonstrated their traditions and increased awareness of their presence while simultaneously entertaining their peers.

After all, any show combining belly dancing, salsa and back flips couldn’t possibly miss the mark.

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