On Tuesday, March 6, Kean held its CultureFest at Downs Hall.
The walls were decorated with every country's flag and lit with blue lights. Tables were decorated with table cloths of all different colors, tri-folds of fun facts for different countries, and vases of marbles and fairy lights. There was also an astounding amount of food from different cultural vendors that filled up two tables extending the full length of the room. It was an admirable effort on the behalf of the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS), Miron Student Center Operations and Event Management, Office of Student Government and Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs which was recompensed with the fact that the event sold out.
When the doors opened at 7 p.m., students came flooding in. CLS's Manny Cervantes was the host for the night and began the event by energizing the audience with his opening and welcome.
Alison Lopez and David Lopez were the first performers of the night. They danced a traditional Peruvian dance called the Marinera. The Marinera is danced by a man and a woman and is a dance of courtship. Women usually wear long, layered skirts and ruffled tops with flowers in their hair while men wear suits and sombreros.
The dance was begun with the Lopezes circling around one another. The brother-sister duo were all smiles as Alison waved her skirt around and twirled around the stage while David rhythmically tapped his feet, spun around, and waved his sombrero. This dance tells the story of a boy and a girl's flirtatious courtship. The boy chases after the girl and wants her to be his girlfriend. Although the girl wants to be in a relationship with the boy, she continues to tease and act otherwise. David explained how this was particularly exemplified by the use of handkerchiefs. As the boy offers a handkerchief, the girl will look away despite having her own to share too.
The next performance was by Clarence Causing. He sang a song called "Saan ka man naroroon," which is a Filipino song which translates from Tagalog to mean, "Wherever you are." Causing explained how the song has personal significance to him. It is a song he always sings to his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents when he visits his home in the Philippines.
"Whenever we are far apart, I am always thinking of them," Causing said. To Causing, the song is his own celebration and reminder of home.
Following Causing was Alison Lopez again with a solo dance. She danced a Peruvian dance called the Valicha which originates in La Sierra—a cold, mountainous region in Peru. Lopez explained that the traditional wear is longer sleeves and skirts because of the cold temperatures. Furthermore, llama fur would be incorporated into the dance as llamas are native to Peru.
Although she danced alone, the dance is usually comprised of many girls.
The Valicha is the name of a popular song as well as a dance. The song tells the tale of a tragic love story between Valerina Condori and Miguel Angel. The two were in love, but the reality of segregation and racism of the times kept them apart. Although their romance failed, it is remembered through song and dance.
Lopez's dance ended the first half of performances. Students were then free to eat the long buffet available. Many students were wowed by the wide variety of foods. The options included foods from First Republic Lounge, Algarve, KB on the Go, The Halal Guys, Reggio's, Xpress Cafe, El Lechon de Negron and Cathay 22. Students often had to take two plates in order to try everything.
As students feasted, Cervantes began the Cultural Connection trivia game with three students.
Each student would have the opportunity over three rounds to earn points by answering multiple choice questions correctly. The questions taught interesting fun facts about different countries asking things like, "What is the most linguistically diverse country?" In the end, the students tied.
After the conclusion of the game, Neeve Broesler continued the night of cultural performances. She performed a modernized set dance called King of the Fairies. Brosler's dance was performed with hard tap shoes and consisted of a lot of tapping, stomping, running, jumping and high kicks.
The next show of the night was the Fashion Show. The Indian Culture Club came dressed in their traditional festive clothing.
The women's dresses were free flowing, colorful and embellished while the men's suits were a little more fitted and colorful still.
The Fashion Show was a major success with many in the audience wowed by the beautiful costumes.
Next came Iota Phi Theta with a stroll and step dance.
Afterward, Limuele Ricio sang "Sila," by SUD which translates from Tagalog to mean "them." Ricio explained he chose the indie-styled Filipino song to break from Filipino tradition and show variety.
As the song was introduced to him by his cousin from the Philippines, it also helps him to remember his family from his home country.
Mu Sigma Upsilon followed up with their salute.
Filipino Uniting Nations at Kean (FUNK) then performed a Filipino cultural dance called Tinikling. The dance originates from the islands of Leyte in the Visayan Islands of the Philippines. The dance is meant to imitate the graceful movements of the Tikling bird.
Tinikling incorporates two long bamboo sticks with two designated "clappers" on each end of the sticks to clap along to a beat. As the clappers clap along to the beat, dancers move in and out of the sticks.
FUNK began the dance by using traditional music, but later gave a surprising modernized rendition of the dance to the song "Stir Fry" by Migos.
Thereafter, Kean Dance Theatre (KDT) danced to their own remix of music.
This performance was then followed by Genesis Algaba's solo dance. She danced to Nicuragua's most renowned song, "La Mora Limpia."
The dance is usually danced in male and female pairs and is an act of courtship. It incorporates ballet and folklore and highlights the beauty of Nicuraguan women.
Following Algaba was Lambda Theta Alpha who performed their salute and stroll.
The next performance was given by Kayla Oliviera and Rebecca Sendon who performed a traditional European folk dance.
Omega Sigma Psi then followed up with their stroll and a dance.
The Kean University Poetry club then performed spoken word on what culture means to them.
Sigma Gamma Rho then showcased their step dance and stroll.
The Indian Culture Club finished the night of cultural performances with a traditional Indian dance called the Gujarati Garba. The Garba is a dance that originated from the Gujarati people and is danced in honor of the Goddess Durga.
The dance is performed in large groups and consists of a lot of spinning bodies, hands and feet.
After the Indian Culture Club's performance, the DJ opened up the dance floor to the audience.
There, students of all backgrounds and affiliations came together to show and share their different dances.
As students blended together, there was no longer any distinct differences between any group at CultureFest. Instead, everyone was one student body of the diverse Kean University.