As the lights dimmed in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater on Saturday night, a huge cheer went up from the crowd. As a senior, I knew why — we were back for an annual tradition that we hadn’t seen since our freshman year.
Yotonix is the annual show featuring a collaboration between two very talented student orgs on campus: Revolution and Photonix. Revolution is our Chinese Yo-Yo team. Photonix is known for their glowsticking and visual arts performances.
The 2020 Yotonix show was tragically scheduled for March 14, the day after things officially turned topsy turvy, and they had to cancel due to the pandemic. 2021 Yotonix was a brilliantly crafted virtual show . But nothing can replace a live, in-person arts performance. This year marked the return of the in-person version of the show, and everyone in attendance was ECSTATIC. It was a night full of amazing art and there wasn’t a dull moment.
The show was, as it promised, both “Spy-tacular” and spectacular. The performers made their craft look so easy, but that was just the mark of their talent and months of practice.
The Chinese Yo-Yo, or Diabolo, is not what most people picture when they think of a yoyo. It evolved completely independently of the Western yoyo in China and grew popular as a toy in Europe. It requires a lot of skill to do most Diabolo tricks because you need to constantly maintain a fast enough spin so it stays stable…while it’s being whipped around and jumped over and caught all over the place.
Glowsticking originates from poi, a performance art first practiced by the Maori people of New Zealand that involves swinging weighted tethers called poi in geometric patterns. Glowsticking evolved from this as a performance done in the dark while either swinging glowsticks attached to strings, twirling glowing batons, or “freehanding” it by tossing/spinning the glowsticks directly in each hand. Learning this also requires a great deal of skill because you need to swing the glowsticks at high speeds for them to trace continuous patterns in the dark and it’s easy for them to get tangled or smack you in the face in the process.
It makes sense why, in the weeks leading up to the show, I often saw both orgs practicing in Mason Hall late at night! They were not taking on easy routines. My photos really don’t do them justice.
I really liked the choreo both groups demonstrated this year. Most Yoyo shows I’ve seen tend to stick to the same high-energy EDM music that gets a little overused after a while. Revolution’s creativity really shined through in the routines they put together to all sorts of musical genres, both fast and slow. Photonix also came through, experimenting with innovative glow suits with lights sewn into them and adding hula hoops and music-synced lights into their performance. *applause*
I also want to write a little ode to an oft-underrecognized part of any performance: the audience. I love the energy of the crowds during these student shows. We’re not there to see a professional, polished thing – we’re there to cheer on our pals. When someone drops their Yo-Yo or tangles up their glowstick and has to dart offstage, we only cheer and clap even louder in support. Because everyone in that theater was there to celebrate the passion and creativity and camaraderie that these students poured into this show – for once, not for any resume or class assignment or final project – but simply to HAVE FUN and express themselves.
I give Yotonix 2021 five out of five stars 🙂