REVIEW: That Brown Show

That Brown Show, presented by Michigan Sahana, is an annual event that showcases South Asian performance groups at the University of Michigan. The show allows for members of the South Asian community and others to enjoy a night of traditional and not so traditional performances. The night started off with a performance by Michigan Sahana Music, who performed Indian classical music as students showed their skill with various instruments as well as their voices. Also performing a musical number was Maize Mirchi, a South Asian a cappella group that presented a Hindi-English fusion song mix. I really enjoyed watching their performance and loved how they were able to combine songs of different cultures into a cohesive production.

The various dance performances were also very entertaining to watch. Michigan Sahana Dance and Michigan Mayuri both performed Indian classical dances that were traditional in style. Both groups were very skillful and expressive, able to communicate an entire story through dance. Michigan WolveRAAS also performed, mixing traditional regional dance styles with some contemporary elements. Their performance was extremely energetic and very entertaining to watch. South Asian fusion teams Michigan Taal and Michigan Manzaat also danced, mixing Bollywood and South Asian music and dance styles to create incredible and unique programs. The night ended with a series of thank you’s as  WolveRAAS won the judge’s choice award and Manzaat took home the audience choice award. I truly appreciated the sheer variety of performance groups, each of which offered something new to the audience while still highlighting South Asian culture.

REVIEW: A Night at the Burlesque

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the collaborative dance show, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The show was run by Flowdom, a multi-cultural hip hop dance group, and Outrage, a jazz and contemporary dance team. The night started off with a bang as both groups joined together to perform their Burlesque number, accompanied by the songs from the 2010 film.

From there, Flowdom began their series of performances, all of which were meant to reflect various movie genres: Horror, Fantasy, Romance, and Action. They incorporated popular songs and props to help them along the way. My particular favorite was their Nightmare on State Street number (of the Horror genre), which incorporated eerie music, lighting, and dance moves to create an interesting and entertaining dance. Outrage also performed a number of times, although their music varied from upbeat pop songs to softer, more contemporary work. There was talent galore on display as the team performed complicated spins and lifts, accompanied by dazzling costume changes. I particularly enjoyed their dance to Lorde’s song Liability.

 

The show also featured several other student dance groups throughout the night. These teams included DB3 (an all-male K-Pop/Hip-Hop dance crew), the Dynamic Dolls, who performed majorette style dancing, Salto (a contemporary ballet dance group), and Konnect, a co-ed K-pop dance group. These groups all performed high-energy dances that were met with thunderous applause and cheers. I really appreciated the variety in the guest performances and thought they added to the complex arrangement of the show overall.

The night ended as Flowdom and Outrage partnered up for one last song, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. I could tell both groups had an absolute blast and their joy was expressed clearly through their performances. I had a great time watching the show and can’t wait to see what these groups do next!

REVIEW: Holi Festival

Unlike today’s chilly temperatures, the weather for the annual Holi Festival at Palmer Field was warm and welcoming, mirroring the celebratory nature of the holiday. Although there is debate about the mythological origins of the festival, Holi is traditional Hindu festival, meant to honor the arrival of spring while also commemorating the triumph of good over evil. Though there are regional variations of Holi celebrations in India, the practice of playing with colored powders and water is common.

The event was hosted by the Indian American Student Association, Hindu Students Council, and Indian Student Association. They did a wonderful job of creating a fun festival, complete with music, dancing, and delicious Indian snacks. This was my first time celebrating Holi at the university, and it was amazing to see the community come together for a fun-filled afternoon. Strangers and friends alike stood shoulder to shoulder and slowly became more and more colorful as the event went on. It truly was entertaining to witness the multi-colored clothes and shoes of people walking around the grounds.

Being a member of such a large university can make it hard to connect with others, especially given the recent pandemic. Events like these allow students to meet others who share the same experiences and interests (alongside students just interested in learning about other cultures) to help build a sense of community and belonging. I’m very glad that Holi at Michigan returned after pausing for COVID, and I look forward to participating in the festival again next year!

REVIEW: Dance Mix 2022: Roaring 20’s

As the audience slowly filed in to the Power Center last Friday, excited chatter and laughter spread throughout the packed room. Anticipation filled the room as introductions were made, along with a touching tribute to previous students who had graduated without a chance to perform at Dance Mix due to the pandemic. The show started off with a series of energetic performances, as EnCore performed their first set and were followed by Revolution, who gave dazzled with their unique yoyo sequences that were choreographed to the music. Although RhythM Tap Ensemble put on three different sets, I would say my favorite was their Mamma Mia set, where they wore costumes resembling those in the movie. The Michigan Ballroom Dance Team also put on quite a performance, with the pairs completing spin after spin. I also loved the enthusiasm brought by the hip-hop groups KGayo3 and Dance2XS, both of which brought the house down with their fast and complex dance moves and popular music choices. 

 

The audience remained energetic throughout the show, granting each group a tremendous round of cheers and applause. What made the show stand out to me was that groups from so many different styles of dance were able to come together to create a diverse and entertaining performance. It was also incredible to witness students display their artistic talent as they performed self-choreographed routines. The night ended with a lively and humorous performance by the all-male group FunKtion, who then joined the rest of the groups to take their bows, all coming together to celebrate a very successful show.

REVIEW: Romare Bearden: Abstraction

It isn’t often that we are able to trace an artist’s entire stylistic journey in one room, yet the UMMA’s newest exhibit allows us to do just that. Though I was familiar with Bearden as an artist, like many others, this was solely through his collages that highlighted African American culture. The expansive room was set up perfectly, allowing me to wander through Bearden’s art in a chronological manner.

The exhibit begins with displaying the artist’s earliest works that experiment with watercolors and Cubism as Bearden was undergoing artistic training. The next phase of Bearden’s work is demonstrated by a small collection of untitled collages that created a shift in Bearden’s methods as he combined new and old techniques. The following period of abstract oil paintings makes up the majority of the exhibit. The curators of the exhibit did a wonderful job in explaining the how factors in Bearden’s life, such as his relationships, interests, and locations, affected his stylistic development. My personal favorite in this collection of abstractions was “Mountain of Heaven”, painted by Bearden in 1961. The experimentation in media is especially prevalent here, as he incorporates oil paint in a wholly unexpected way that creates a dramatic texture and suggests movement. The more natural shape of the oil paint is juxtaposed by the heavy blocks of color that make up the outer edges of the painting, resulting in a stunning effect. 

The exhibition, though focused on promoting Bearden’s more unknown works, ends with displaying several of his famed collages. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the works that Bearden was known for, yet I had a greater appreciation of them after viewing his journey as an artist. Though he worked with new techniques, it is easy to see how Bearden’s earlier interest in bold colors and shapes shines through his later work. The exhibit was executed fantastically, allowing the viewer to view firsthand the transitions of Bearden’s work and the way that his own work inspires innovation. The exhibit is open until May 15, 2022.

REVIEW: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Coming back from Thanksgiving break to a snowy campus was made all the better with a performance by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The audience’s excitement and energy was palpable as they waited for the talented musicians to begin. Marsalis and the JLCO warmed up with some Christmas classics like “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Jingle Bells”. The big band interpretation of these holiday classics was fantastic and really got the audience into the holiday spirit. Marsalis made for a charming host, as he shared anecdotes he’s collected over the years as he introduced each song on the set list. With each song, various members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra were able to play solos with dazzling skill, only to be met by a very enthusiastic audience.

The band was also accompanied by Alita Moses, jazz vocalist, for a few songs. Her incredible voice played in perfectly as the band played “Mary Had a Baby”, a more spiritual song. Moses was a wonderful addition to the night, and her stunning voice remained a highlight of the entire performance. The night ended with thunderous applause as the band played “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with high energy.

One of the reasons why the performance was so memorable was in fact the crowd at Hill Auditorium that night. For many, this was the first time attending an in-person concert since the beginning of COVID, and the festive music was reflected in the tone of the crowd. It was amazing to see a jazz legend perform on my college campus, and I was all the more ready to celebrate the holidays afterwards!