A night of chaos, fun, colour, innumerable technical difficulties, unique performances, 15 different nations… the Grand Opera House York has probably never seen such an eclectic two-and-a-half hours. Marking the first night of International Week, the annual ISA Cultural Performance featured dance, song, performative stories, music, and even some rather unnerving kitchen knives being brandished in faces.
The night suffered badly from many technical problems, culminating in an unplanned 10-minute break in addition to the two respective 10- and 20-minute scheduled breaks, which sorely tempted the bored or tired with many opportunities to leave. However, this was taken in stride by all of the performers, with the Thai society – not the first, but perhaps the most unfortunate victims of the temperamental sound system that night – even admirably singing anyway despite lacking backing music. With the supportive audience, the casual mood and the good attitude of all involved, the problems were laughed off and quality performances were delivered.
The African Caribbean Society got the night off to an energetic start with a variety of traditional dances accompanied by drums. Some, like the Brunei and Kazakh societies, chose to retell traditional stories through a mixture of dance and narrative performance. Great choreography and almost perfectly synchronised movements characterised the dances from the Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian and Lithuanian societies. The effort to showcase traditional dress paid off greatly for the Malaysian and Japanese societies, who looked very eye-catching and unified. Comic relief came undoubtedly in the form of Italian soc with a Sicilian folk song, although Korean soc with their kitchen-themed rhythmic show, using knives on chopping boards, were a close second. The ‘mule’ that was supposed to be travelling all over Latin America was a downright silly and unnecessary addition, but considering the inescapable cheesiness and the clashes of sense of humour which accompany anything celebrating multiculturalism, perhaps that’s one to let slide. Other highlights of the night included a Mexican guitar duo and Turkish Society’s belly dance piece which, not surprisingly, kindly received a “this one’s for the lads!” introduction from the MC.
With a good variety of performance arts as well as a welcoming and warm representation of the nationalities here at the university, the slightly long but enjoyable ISA Cultural Performance has marked the beginning of International Week at York. With plenty more arts related events such as a talent pageant and free dance lessons spread throughout the next few days, it’s definitely worth trying whatever catches your eye – especially, needless to say, the delicious international foods.