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Colors of Culture in Washington Hall

Claire Stephens | Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The Black Cultural Arts Council will produce its annual fall show, Black Images, after the Boston College football game Saturday. Every year Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students entertain audiences with their talents and skills for this family-friendly production.

This year’s show, called “One Night Only,” will not feature a specific theme, but rather a diverse array of performances. For the first time in its history, Black Images will be a talent competition rather than just a showcase. The audience will decide who they thought had the best performance, and the winner will be awarded a prize.

Film, Television and Theatre faculty member Brian McLaughlin will host, and for the first time, the show will feature a live disc jockey, DJ 3J.

Vice president of BCAC, junior Purterson Justilien, said he is excited to participate in a production brought to Notre Dame by a long line of talent.

“I’m hoping this new format will blow everyone away,” said Justilien. “There are a few surprises we have in store for the audience and I know everyone who attends will enjoy themselves.”

First Class Ladies and First Class Fellas, Project Fresh, Dance Africa and Voices of Faith will all perform. Over half a dozen singers, dancers and rappers will also participate.

One of the solo acts performing Saturday is sophomore Chinelo Onyeador, who will play the violin and also dance with Dance Africa. Onyeador said it is important to participate in events like these to battle stereotypes on campus.

“A lot of times students at Notre Dame have this stigma about black students on campus,” Onyeador said. “I feel like people think we’re all the same and this is an opportunity to show that we aren’t. There’s a variety of talents in the black community and this is the perfect place for everyone to showcase these talents. We’ve been blessed with a place that is comfortable for everyone.”

Nneka Ekechukwu, a Pasquerilla East senior Dance Africa member, said diversity is represented in the group.

“In our group you can see that ‘black’ means so many different things, whether one is from Virginia or Nigeria,” said Ekechukwu. “Our dance is a mixture of traditional cultural songs to more contemporary music from different parts of Africa that incorporates a lot of hip movement, because no matter what part of Africa someone is from, the hip action is something we all have in common.”

Fellow Dance Africa member senior Kenenna Amuzie said it is important to represent the diverse African community.

“I am really looking forward to sharing part of the many beauties of African culture with the African American community on campus and the greater Notre Dame community,” Amuzie said.

Amuzie is also a singer in the student led faith organization Voices of Faith, a regular act in the Black Images showcase.

“Black Images is one of the many wonderful opportunities through which Voices is able to show what the choir is all about, while praising God through our uplifting music,” said Amuzie.

First Class Steppers, a step-dancing, percussive dance group will perform, using their entire bodies as instruments to produce complex rhythms and sounds.

“Our purpose or mission has always been to showcase to and educate the Notre Dame community, as well as the greater area of South Bend, on the African-American tradition and culture of stepping, a modern form of traditional African dance,” said senior co-president Brittany Suggs. “Black Images has always encouraged the African, African American and Caribbean ethnicities of the Black Notre Dame community to display their cultures, talents and gifts in order to create an enriching experience for all whom attend the show.”

Ramon Chandler, a Saint Mary’s College first year, will both perform with Project Fresh and belly dance as a solo act.

“I am excited to show people the true meaning of belly dancing, which calls for the finding of oneself and the building of confidence,” said Chandler. “I think being in Black Images is important because it showcases everyone no matter what race they are, and gives them a chance to show their talent.”

Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Frazier Thompson Scholarship Fund.

Black Images: One Night Only takes place in Washington Hall on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. after the Boston College football game. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased in the LaFortune Box Office for $8 and at the door the night of the show for $10.