By SPENCER ABROHMS For The News-Letter
Song, dance and political statements filled Shriver Hall on Friday, Nov. 7 at the annual Culture Show.
Culture Show, sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was founded in 1987 as part of CultureFest, now known as CultureSCAPE. The purpose of Culture Show is to celebrate the many cultures that make up the Hopkins community and the unique artistic expression they each provide.
The show allowed 16 different groups to show off their various talents. Singing groups like the Jewish a capella group Ketzev and the Chinese a capella group Music Dynasty proved that you don’t need instruments to spread cultural awareness. Both groups sang one song in English and one in their foreign language, creating performances that were relatable and displayed unique cultural identities.
Additionally the Gospel Choir gave a memorable performance that was able to engage even those who are not religiously inclined. Senior Diamond Pollard and sophmore Dikachi Osaji enthralled the audience with a passionate spoken-word performance that illustrated the plight of African Americans and the importance of being fiercely independent.
There were also a variety of cultural dance performances. These included pieces from the classical Indian dance team Shakti, the jazz and lyrical group Jaywalk, the Caribbean dance group Vivaz, the African dance group Temps d’Afrique, the official Hopkins dance team Ladybirds, the Latin American dance group Baila!, the Filipino Student Association and the bhangra dance team Bhangra.
Graduate student Avani Duggarju gave the only solo performance of the night in the form of a graceful Indian dance. Another dance group featured at Culture Show was the breakdancing group Bboys, who performed an impressive dance medley. Freshman Tommy Liang just recently joined Bboys and has enjoyed the experience so far.
“It was a very eye-opening experience,” Liang said. “I liked it because anything can be considered culture. We actually call ourselves Bboys, and it’s a culture in itself. We talk about graffiti art, street art, and it’s much more than just breakdance.”
The show was closed out by the Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe who gave a performance that was at once sweet and thrilling. Freshman Celine Arpornsuksant, who played symbols for the Lion Dance, was eager to perform with other Hopkins performers.
“It was really cool that we were able to watch all the other great groups before we had to go on,” Celine said.
Meanwhile, many audience members were equally excited to experience and appreciate the unique cultural performances of the night. Freshman Jennifer Baron commented that the show proved that although Hopkins students can often be preoccupied with work, they are concerned with more than just studying.
“I thought it was nice to see how involved different students were in our community, and the huge turnout shows that there really is great school spirit,” Baron said.
Another freshman student, Alyssa Chalmin, who attended Culture Show for the first time, reflected on the diversity of the various student groups.
“I thought that the variety of groups and talents was really cool. Hopkins is diverse, and it was nice to see that reflected tonight in the variety of performances,” Chalmin said.
Freshman Vidur Kailash echoed Chalmin’s words on the variety of performances at Culture Show.
“It’s really diverse. These groups are really pertinent to people’s lives, and you can choose to be a part of it or not. Hopkins is a very accepting place,” Kailash said.
While Culture Show emphasized the diversity found at Hopkins, it also stressed the importance of embracing the diversity of the Baltimore community and recognizing the political issues at stake within the area and the wider world.
At one point in the night, Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West was murdered by a police officer in 2013, spoke about her organization West Wednesday. Every Wednesday, the West family leads a demonstration in Baltimore to seek justice for police violence.
Jones’ words helped to shape a central purpose for this year’s show by allowing students to reflect on their own contributions to the Baltimore community and the significance of political activism.