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College holds fourth annual multi-cultural dance recital

Alicia Smith | Thursday, November 19, 2009

With offerings of dancing, singing and food, students came together Tuesday to learn about different cultures during International Education Week at Saint Mary’s College.

“Music and Dance Around The World” presented students with an assortment of performances from various cultures.  This was the fourth year for the event. Saint Mary’s junior Jinqui Guan was the student representative for the event, and was responsible for much of the planning behind it.

“I have always been interested in music and dance. Personally, I dance and play piano,” Guan said. “So organizing the recital is something that interests me and can make me more involved in the arts. I helped with the planning for the event last year, so I felt that I had more experience this time.”

The event began with members of Saint Mary’s Chinese class singing “Welcome To Beijing.” Following the opening song, several students showcased their musical talents by playing instruments from other cultures.

Amira El-Serafy, a Fulbright exchange student taking classes at the College this year, presented two songs by a well-known musician in her home country Egypt.

Karam Salem, a sophomore at Holy Cross College, performed an original song entitled “Bridges.” Salem, a native of Iraq, played the song on the piano, and said he wrote the song because he believed music could bridge the gap between his home country and other nations.

Chen Chen, a sophomore at Saint Mary’s, presented a song on the guzheng, a classical Chinese instrument that is a cross between a dulcimer and a harp. Chen played “Liuyang River,” and said the song “depicts beautiful scenery of a river.”

Other students who played instruments were junior Emily Puscas on piano and first year Jin Yang on Erhu. Puscas played “Arabesque” and Yang played “Gallop of Horses.”

The recital also included a variety of traditional dances. Guan performed a traditional dance entitled “Plum Flower.” Guan said the dance was very symbolic to China. According to Guan, the dance stands for perseverance because “only this flower can stand the cold of winter.

“Mostly, I want to share my culture. I performed a piece of Chinese classical dance called “Plum Flower” which has a very beautiful signification in China,” she said. “It is a symbol for purity and perseverance. I know most people in the audience have never seen a Chinese dance before. So participating in this kind of events is a very great way to introduce my culture to the audience.”

Another cultural dance performed was “Tuu Poe Tuu Poe,” which translates into the “Burmese Water Festival Dance.” This dance was presented by sophomore Shwe Yee Phyoe and junior Ni La. Another symbolic dance, the “Burmese Water Festival Dance” represents washing away the sins from the past year and beginning fresh and clean. Phyoe said a tradition of the festival is to throw water on each other.

“By participating I hoped to share some of Pina Bausch’s ideas and a taste of her movement and the Tanztheatre (Dance Theatre) genre,” Fischer said. As a member and officer of the student group, TransPose, [a dance collective group] it was an opportunity to show what our group is capable of and demonstrate some interesting dance form.”

The event also included a variety of songs and arias. Junior Jessica Gorski performed “Verborgenheit,” a traditional German piece. The piece translates to “Seclusion.” First year Erin Marks sang “Se Tu M’ami,” an ethnic song from Italy entitled “If You Love Me” in English. Other songs included “Con Que La Lavare?” or “With What Then May I Bathe,” a Spanish song sang by junior Krystina Harcourt, “Lydia,” a French song performed by junior Anna Bax, “Adieu Notre Petite Table” or Goodbye, Our Little Table,” a French song performed by senior Rachel Raska, and “Caro Nome” or “Dear Name” an Italian song sang by sophomore Ashley Biehl.

Many students enjoyed participating in the event.

“My favorite part is seeing audience enjoying the performance,” Guan said. “When I dance, I always think about how I can make everybody feel joyful, so I can pass the joy from my heart to the other people. So when I see audiences smiling, I am very happy.”

With many student participants and a large audience, the event seemed be a success.
“I think the recital went very well. It was very successful,” Guan said. “We had a lot of audience and the performers were really good. Some of them were professional. It was so great to see so many Saint Mary’s students having so much talent. Art is a bridge that can connect people of different cultures. This recital really reflects this point.”