By Kelly Kimball
Photography by Kelly Kimball
Find original article HERE.
A campus organization known as MIX (Multicultural Interracial eXperience) took over the night in a colorful and vibrant flurry, celebrating multiculturalism and our global community through the power of dance last Wednesday April 3rd at their “Melting Pot Festival.”
This first-annual dance show at Winifred Smith Hall was a fantastic two-hour exposition of seven different culture clubs comprising of 95 talented and dedicated student performers. MIX President and senior dance major Michelle Maasz, was artistic director and originator of this showcase as a part of her Campus-wide Honors Program senior thesis.
“My initial research question was ‘how does dance unite people?’” notes Maasz. She goes on to say that her main inspiration was the passion and distinct characteristics each global culture has toward their craft of traditional dance.
“All of the pieces have their own flair and style. They’re all very distinct, but at the same time, I think that when an audience sees all of the different [dance] forms on one stage and one show, they realize that we all have the same body and we all move and express and connect with movement.”
One of the main things MIX’s members were proud of was the sheer size of this production. “This has never been done before,” says MIX co-President Donnie Wong. He was happy to see that as a result of their production, there was a newly-formed presence of solidarity and appreciation for other organization’s cultural practices and traditions.
“All of the organizations we worked with were enthusiastic and cooperative,” states assistant stage director Jamie Espiritu, who was in charge of the production’s technical schedule and backstage operations. Performers showed incredible commitment to this event and took part in two 4-hour rehearsals on top of their individual practices.
Their commitment was purely out of each organization’s own passion toward their respective histories. Maasz praised them, stating “they do it for the love of their culture and for their own family traditions. I’m really grateful for all of their time.” Indeed, the 80-90 person audience that evening seemed grateful as well; each performance was expertly choreographed and offered a satisfying variety of routines and music selections.
Nayeli Correa, Vice-President of Ballet Folklórico de UCI, showed particular passion toward her organization’s routine. The first part of the performance was a traditional dance called “Sin a Loa,” where dancers wore wide purple and white skirts with flowy one-shoulder blouses and wide-brimmed hats, representing the coastal region of Mexico. The last part of the routine was called “Jalisco” and showcased five dancers in traditional multi-colored, voluminous dresses to the tune of mariachi-based music. Since joining Ballet Folklórico, Correa has been able to thoroughly remain in tune to her roots and practice her Spanish with other members – a feat that has allowed her to appreciate her family’s history as well as her American nationality in a delicate balance.
Alison Agustin from Hawaii Club noted that one of the pieces in their routine was a traditional battle dance called “Haka,” presented by four male performers. This powerful routine was comprised of intense, spirited chanting and rhythmic foot stomping and hand clapping. Agustin noted that this dance is even performed by rugby players in New Zealand before their game to intimidate their contenders. Agustin’s favorite part about this event was that it spread awareness on clubs that UC Irvine may not have known about before; All seven of these organizations will have their own end-of-year showcase later on in the spring, the festival offered much-needed exposition.
Another performance group was “MitRaas” of the Indian Sub-continental Club. One member, Parth Jani, described their “Garba/Raas” routine as a modern interpretation of a traditional dance originated in Gujarat, India. Their dance was inspired by a major nine-day religious yearly festival called “Navarti.”
The passion brought on by each cultural organization contributed to the vibrancy of the MIX Melting Pot festival. In a campus full of so many histories and sub-communities, an event that showcases our uniqueness and our commonalities in one place is just what UC Irvine has needed.