On Friday, April 8, Leadership 2’s Homecoming Multicultural Committee (HCMC), presented the first Multicultural Week assembly in more than two years, featuring 16 unique performances that showcased dances, music, and martial arts from diverse cultures.
The gym, adorned with flags of different nations, echoed with MSJ Jazz Band’s rendition of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams as students began to fill the bleachers. As the lively energy of the crowded room died down, Chamber Chorale led the singing of the national anthem.
The assembly continued with the Chinese Folkloric Dance, whose dynamic dance consisted of dramatic twirls and acrobatics including pirouettes and aerials while the colorful red ethnic dresses added a refreshingly playful aspect to the dance.
As the Folkloric dancers left the stage, the jingle of ghungroos, or Indian metallic anklets, replaced the reverberation of the Chinese drum. Kathak dancers, with jasmine-clad hair, dressed in shimmery blue lehengas, skillfully harmonized hand and torso movements to the song “Garaj Garaj” by Ajoy Chakrabarty and Javed Ali. Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancers joined in soon after, performing refined footwork to an intense remix of “Hara Hara Shankara” by the Bombay Sisters.
A soothing pause from the sequence of dance performances came when the Syncopasians, MSJ’s acapella team, hummed to a mellow medley of the songs “Reflection” and “Honor To Us All” from Mulan, arranged by MSJ Class of 2020 Alumna Anita Sun. The harmonious singing performance naturally gave way to a graceful ballet performance. Choreographed to the songs “Little Swans”, “Pas de Trois”, “Black Swan”, and “Coda”, the dance consisted of multiple segments differentiated by their unique tempo, pacing, and style.
In a shift of pace, the Indian Classical Band took the stage, a new airband, executing a pitch-perfect performance of the song “Ghoomar” accompanied by a ceremonial harmonium-tabla-duet.
Following the symphonic performance, Raas dancers entered the gym in a wave of bright pink, orange, and gold, dandiya sticks in hand. With fusions of American pop music and the popular Garba song “Nagada Sang Dhol” by Osman Mir and Shreya Ghoshal, the performance included aspects of Gujarati dance and maintained an energetic atmosphere amongst the audience.
The ensuing sequence of intense martial arts kept the vigor of earlier dances alive, as History Teacher Karl Hui deftly maneuvered his Qiang, a Chinese spear. Pulling off a series of impressively powerful yet controlled thrusts, he performed the Praying Mantis style of Kung Fu. The crowd erupted in cheers as Kung Fu fighters, building off of Hui’s powerful routine, expertly handled nunchucks, nine-section chain whips, and pudaos, or Chinese infantry swords.
Tinikling, a Filipino folk dance, followed, as dancers boasting vibrant multicolored bandanas rhythmically struck bamboo poles against the ground. Simultaneously, bare-footed dancers with hands held behind their backs gracefully weaved in and out of the rapidly closing poles to the infectious beat of a traditional Filipino folk song.
Chamber Chorale’s nostalgic number, “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, accompanied by cultural instruments like Mexican maracas, Cuban claves, cowbells, and the Puerto Rican Güiro sustained Tinikling’s uplifting energy, paving the way for an equally spirited Bhangra performance.
Dancers dressed in bright pink, yellow, and blue balloon pants performed Bhangra to “Space Cadet” by Metro Boomin, “Magenta Riddim” by DJ Snake, “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee and punk remixes, clapping their handheld saaps, or wooden criss-cross props, to the rhythmic beat of the dhol instrument.
Next, Mission Diabolo Club (DC)’s eye-catching traditional Chinese yo-yo performance quickly grabbed the attention of the audience while performers attempted daring aerial yo-yo tricks. Dressed as a dragon, a glow-in-the-dark diabolo lit up the room and swiftly sailed across the gym floor as the lights dimmed to bring Mission DC’s performance to a close.
When the lights came back on, the Hip Hop dancers’ neon orange outfits and fast dance movements captivated the audience. From Amine’s “Reel It In” to Chris Brown’s “Run It”, the medley of energetic songs generated excitement among the crowd, where many students began joyfully singing the songs themselves.
With an exhilarating entrance, the Taekwondo performers dressed in doboks – traditional Korean Martial Art robes – quickly dominated the stage with technical kicks and acrobatic flips. The thrilling Taekwondo performance exemplified the roots of the traditional Korean martial art through the breaking of boards and roses with quick, spinning kicks.
Following Taekwondo’s fierce performance, the K-pop airband entered the stage with matching lavender outfits and synchronized dance moves. The group danced to fan favorites including “Fever” by ENHYPHEN, “Thunderous” by Stray Kids, and “LOCO” by ITZY. The 6-minute-long performance was one of the longest of the event.
Finally, Bollywood performers dressed in hot pink, yellow, and blue dresses and tuxedo vests closed out the assembly with a diverse mix of Indian dance styles including Bhangra, Kathak, and Raas. Famous for its colorful and bold dances, Bollywood airband’s enormous number of members did not disappoint as they ended the assembly with their contagiously lively performance, accompanied by a roar of final cheers.
Catch Leadership II’s coverage on Multicultural Week here:
Photo courtesy of Staff Writers Charlize Chiu & Sarina Li
Video courtesy of Leadership II Video Committee