The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Multicultural Week 2024

By Staff Writers Shuhan Jin, Naisha Koppurapu, Catherine Qin, Priyanka Shah & Lucas Zhang

From March 4-8, Leadership 2’s Homecoming Multicultural Committee hosted MSJ’s annual Multicultural Week, showcasing new and returning airbands at the Multicultural Assembly and engaging club booths selling diverse cultural foods throughout the week.


Native American

To kick off the assembly, RedBoy Productions showcased Native American cultural dances to the beat of the drum under narration detailing Native American history and culture. Ba’ac Garcia and his siblings, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, have been advocating for the importance of education and cultural sharing, which they learned from their mother, Lupe Lopez-Donaghey. Covered in colorful feathers and patterns, Garcia danced to the fast beats of traditional Native songs. Following, Teen World Champion Hoop Dancer Nanabah Keediniihii from the Navajo Nation showcased her effortless movements while twirling and positioning eight hoops, eliciting cheers from the audience.



Indian Fusion Singing

Indian Fusion Singing performed the popular song “Mohe Rang Do Laal” by Birju Maharaj, Shreya Ghoshal, and Siddharth – Garima, featuring a modern take on a classical form of performance singing. “It was definitely a challenge trying to get the backing track and the mics to align properly … During the performance, we really appreciated how tech handled the mic conditions and worked with us to make sure that we can have the best performance possible,” Indian Fusion Singing Airband Co-Leader Junior Ashwika Jani said. Despite facing challenges, Indian Fusion Singing impressed the audience with their powerful range. The combination of the three singers’ distinct pitches built a velvety fluid harmony like no other. 




Originating in the Italian Renaissance and gaining popularity after reaching France, ballet began as a form of entertainment for the nobles. Dressed in long, red Spanish skirts and black lace leotards, the Ballet airband performed variations from Don Quixote. The dance began with strong and energetic music, with the dancers showcasing their impressive leaps and turns through pirouettes and grand jetés. Throughout the performance, dancers changed into various formations, bringing an element of excitement. “Coordinating the formations was hard, but after countless rehearsals, working on our technique, and mentally preparing for the actual performance allowed the performance to go really well,” Ballet Airband Co-Leader Junior Amanda Loh said.



Indian Classical

Compiling modern and classical takes on Indian music, the Indian Classical airband portrayed the complexity and individuality of Indian culture. As the assembly progressed, they emerged with three major forms of classical dance: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Kuchipudi. Each performance was enhanced with intricately designed costumes, makeup, jewelry, and hair accessories. Throughout their complex routine, the airband featured several popular Bollywood songs, like “Manwa Laage” by Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit Singh and “Ghar More Pardesiya (Kalank)” by Pritam and Shreya Ghoshal. “I’ve heard from the audience that they really liked the music, which is something that we were really worried about, so I’m really happy with how it went,” Indian Classical Co-Leader Senior Anandita Devata said.



Latin Pop

Increasing in popularity during the 1980s and 1990s in the United States, Latin pop originally featured drums and bass and slowly incorporated components of house music over time. Artists like Ricky Martin and Shakira brought international popularity to Latin pop in the 1990s and early 2000s. Accessorized in purple mesh boleros, the Latin Pop airband waved a series of Latin American flags while performing a segment of pop dance steps coupled with the catchy and authentic beats of Latin pop music. “Latin pop dancing is incredibly fun and energetic. I loved learning this new style and dancing to the unique rhythms and movements,” Latin Pop Member Senior Christopher Apy said.



Vietnamese Dance

Blending martial arts, music, and dance, Vietnamese traditional dance originated in Northern Vietnam, with the lion dance later introduced by Chinese immigrants. Enriching their performance with exciting stunts and color-coordinated props, the Vietnamese Dance airband began in a dome-shaped huddle and used their fans and hats to amplify their fluid movements. The dancers were joined by two lions mid-performance, who performed a traditional lion dance choreography and ended the performance by revealing cultural banners that spelled out “MSJ VSA” with paintings of dragons. “For the lion jump, we had to meet with the four lion performers and just kept practicing the jump in our routines,” Vietnamese Dance Airband Co-Leader Senior Minh-Anh Bui said.


MSJ Syncopasians

MSJ Syncopasians wowed the audience by harmonizing to popular Indian songs while dressed in sarees. In classic acapella style, singers used their own voices as instruments to bring out a harmonious blend of tunes. MSJ Syncopasians performed an upbeat blend of songs including “Suit Suit” by Guru Randhawa and Arjun and “Lahore” by Guru Randhawa. “I was so proud of all our members for coming together and committing to the process of practices, recordings, rehearsals, and even putting on some cool outfits. Performing this set at MSJ has been my biggest goal as co-director this year, and I’m very pleased with how everything turned out,” MSJ Syncopasians Co-Director Senior Nirmayi Deshpande said.



Mr. Hui

Social Studies Teacher Karl Hui has performed in the Multicultural Assembly since 2005. Hui put on an unforgettable performance for the audience that began with the spear. He pushed the ancient Chinese military weapon back and forth and spun it around him in a display of flexibility. After an intermission of the student Kung Fu performance, Hui returned to perform a series of empty hand techniques from a 19th-century kung fu style known as Choy Li Fut, which is most famous for its grappling techniques and powerful strikes. Hui’s display of empty hand movements started similarly to the movements he did in his first appearance as if he had an invisible spear in his hands. He gradually added more kicks and stretches into his routine before bowing down to mark the end of his twentieth performance.



Kung Fu

Kung fu, which originated in ancient China more than 4,000 years ago, includes a variety of martial arts styles that feature sharp movements and intricate techniques. This martial art form gained international acclaim through movie stars like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. The airband’s performance featured a stunt in which one performer ran across the others, who were lying down on the floor. Kung Fu Airband Member Junior Sabrina Buk demonstrated her expertise with a whip before airband members staged a fight scene that kept audience members focused. “Most of the people I worked with went to the same kung fu studio as me, so I could create the choreography and just tell them what to do because they already have a lot of experience,” Kung Fu Airband Co-Leader Senior Elyse Nguyen said.




Gaining massive popularity during the 1990s, J-pop dates back to the late 1920s, when jazz music began influencing classical Japanese music. Dressed in variations of red, white, and black, the J-pop airband opened with MISAMO’s  “Do not touch,” instantly drawing the crowd’s attention with their synchronization and sharp movements. The dancers then seamlessly transitioned to an energetic choreography of &TEAM’s “War Cry,” inspired by the 2023 MAMA Awards performance. Throughout the routine, dancers frequently changed formations, featuring lifts and solo moments that added excitement to the performance. “Everyone in J-pop had a lot of fun. We received a lot of cheers from the audience, which I think helped boost everyone’s confidence on stage,” J-pop Airband Co-Leader Senior Valerie Hoang said.



Chinese Traditional

Tracing back to royal and folk dances during the golden age of Chinese dance, the Tang Dynasty, Chinese classical dance was influenced by Chinese martial arts and opera. Dancers draped in light shades of green delicately swayed to tranquil traditional Chinese music with matching fans, which acted as extensions of their flowing costumes and movements. Throughout the performance, dancers incorporated highly technical butterfly kicks, or xuan zi, and à la seconde turns, mesmerizing the audience with their elegance and synchronization. “In previous years we’ve done more intense and folkloric dances, so [Katie, Alyssa, and I] all thought this [dance] would be a nice contrast and show the versatility of Chinese dance,” Chinese Traditional Airband Co-Leader Senior Allison Wang said.




Taekwondo originated in Korea and is a form of martial arts famous for its emphasis on kicking techniques. The Taekwondo airband demonstrated their talent in the gym as a team of martial arts masters. In several eye-catching stunts, the performers kicked through wooden boards at different thicknesses and heights. The performance culminated with performers punching flowers, the fallen petals creating a burst of color on the gym floor. “My favorite part of Taekwondo airband was teaching all of the helpers. These were people that hadn’t done Taekwondo before, but they still got very involved and made the whole process very enjoyable,” Taekwondo Airband Co-Leader Junior Truman Nguyen said.





Stemming from African American culture, Black communities in New York introduced hip-hop to the world during the 1970s. This genre of dance includes many different styles, including breakdancing, tutting, and freestyling. The Hip-hop airband opened with “United In Grief” by Kendrick Lamar, where dancers jumped on stage in different sports jerseys. As the dance progressed, iconic songs such as the energetic “Yay Area” by E-40 and the upbeat “Milkshake” by Kelis played, synchronizing perfectly with the choreography. “I am really proud of my airband. I think our biggest struggle was time because the preparation time was a lot shorter than [previous years]. However, overall, it was really hype, and the energy was really good,” Hip-hop Airband Co-Leader Senior Angelina Ching said.




Diabolo, also known as Chinese yo-yo, originated in China but grew in popularity in the West after it was modified with rubber and metal. MSJ Diabolo left the audience in awe after showcasing their impressive tricks. The audience cheered as performers successfully threw and caught the diabolos flying across the gym. “Consistency was a major issue for us, as we have quite a few group tricks that require a lot of coordination and practice. We had at least 23 run-throughs before we had a clean one. When it mattered the most, everyone shined and I am so proud of my entire team,” Diablo Airband Co-Leader Senior Audrey Wang said.





Tinikling is a traditional folk dance from the Philippines that involves dancers moving between two bamboo poles. MSJ Tinikling demonstrated their precision and teamwork as they separated into groups of four, each consisting of two clappers and two dancers. Performers graced the stage decorated in red and black skirts resembling the traditional Tinikling costume Balintawak and white dress shirts and a red scarf resembling the Barong Tagalog. “My favorite part of Tinikling was getting the chance to meet new people and getting the chance to spend so much quality time with my friends while we worked together to perfect our dance,” Tinikling Airband Member Junior Russell Lym said.





The Bollywood airband performed a collection of energetic, upbeat songs, complete with props, stunts, and unique formations. Mid-performance, Senior Christopher Apy joined in to kick off the dance as performers huddled together in black sunglasses and hyped up the crowd. Their energy the auditorium with swift, effortless movements. “I’m really glad to see everyone come together, and it was a really nice ending to my senior year,” Bollywood Airband Co-Leader Senior Varsha Sathish said.





Originating from South Korea, K-pop stems from the country’s popular music, encompassing different genres from pop to rock to hip-hop. In recent years, K-pop groups created by entertainment companies quickly flourished and became internationally renowned for their catchy dances, hooks, and influential style. K-pop airband closed off the assembly, entering the stage in combinations of white, blue, and black. From “Bite Me” by ENHYPEN to “Perfect Night” by LE SSERAFIM, the audience was amazed by the airband’s energetic choreography and partner dance sections. “As someone who is in many MC airbands this year, K-pop is one of my favorites because of its high-energy and fun choreography,” K-pop Airband Member Senior Alyssa Chen said. 



Booths and Lunch Events

Following the Multicultural Week performances, more than 45 classes and clubs sold a selection of cultural foods at booths lining the horseshoe. The class officers and club leaders offered dozens of food selections, from MSJ Civics Club’s gulab jamun to Class of 2026’s Vietnamese bánh mì and Youth Alive Christian Club’s Jarritos. Many clubs sold student favorites like boba milk tea, samosas, and Korean fried chicken, allowing clubs to sell out quickly every day and earn profit for their club.

Alongside the diverse food offerings from club booths, a wide variety of culture-themed events during the extended lunches kept the energy of Monday’s performances going throughout the week. Students lined up to play a cultural trivia game in which they answered questions about world cultures to get candy-filled eggs. Additionally, students had an opportunity to paint on mini-canvases at a table next to the food booths to display their culture and creativity. While students enjoyed buying food from the booths on Tuesday, a thunderstorm ended the club selling routine early on Wednesday, forcing everyone indoors for the rest of lunch. Due to this concern, clubs sold at the BTQ on Thursday despite the fair weather. With everything back to normal, a mariachi band performed around the horseshoe on Friday while students bought food from clubs. Within the upbeat environment the band provided, students kicked soccer balls on the grass in the middle of the horseshoe, concluding a fun-filled Multicultural Week at MSJ.

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