Our [art]seen bloggers are University of Michigan students who review arts events on and near campus, sharing their thoughts and experiences on live music, film screenings, dance performances, theatre productions and art exhibitions. Take a look back at some of our most memorable reviews of arts events this past year by clicking on the Year in Review(s) 2023 tag. See what our bloggers went to and read what they thought!
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*The image above features Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated; sorry I didn’t have a good seat to take a picture from :,)*
I saw many familiar organizations from the Yardshow last semester at the Multicultural Greek Exhibition (MGX) on Saturday. Since this event was in a smaller and more private venue, I think I got to know more about the community; one art form I really appreciated seeing again is called a ‘salute’. It’s a tradition unique to many Latino-Greek organizations and is performed in a line formation. They described it as being different from a step or stroll, which are more dance-like, and compared it to a form of poetry expressed through both recitation and movement honoring past accomplishments and cultural history.
Saluting can be startling when seeing it for the first time due to its intense nature, and I hadn’t heard of it before last Saturday; when I first saw it at the Yardshow I didn’t even know that some of the performances I was watching were called a salute. I’m sure many others haven’t heard or seen a salute before either because of how integrated it is in Greek (specifically Latino-Greek) culture and there aren’t many opportunities to see them. I highly recommend it though, because it’s truly a special experience.
It’s impossible for me to capture the salutes I saw only in words, but in my best attempt to describe it the members were SO powerful with their facial expressions, had amazing coordination, showed unbreakable unity, and expressed passionate language. You truly see a whole other side to someone who is performing a salute. Their hard work is so impressive.
I did enjoy the other groups too! I’ve only been attending more serious dance-focused events recently, as in the performers and centered around dance performance, and coming to this event reminded me of how much fun it is for the audience AND the performers when they’re not even ‘dancers’.
While I don’t want to compare, I did prefer the Yardshow more, largely due to the location. Since it was indoors and in a smaller room, there wasn’t much awareness or accessibility to the general public that the event was happening. This meant that the amount and kind of audience were limited and the view I had of the stage wasn’t very good.
Still, it was a fun time and I’m glad I went! Shoutout to all the organizations that performed, especially Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated for organizing it and doing such a good job hosting.
The Multicultural Greek Exhibition (MGX) hosted by Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated is tomorrow: Saturday, March 25th at 7:00 PM in the Michigan Union Rogel Ballroom. This event will be a collaboration between various multicultural greek organizations on campus, where they’ll give all kinds of performances expressing their pride and showcasing their greek traditions.
Last semester I attended the Yardshow, a similar event hosted in the Diag by Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Incorporated. It was an indescribable experience and certainly a night to remember, with one of the largest and most supportive crowds I’ve ever been a part of. Not only did I witness great performances, I also had a valuable learning experience regarding what multicultural greek life entails and how it differentiates itself from other kinds of fraternities and sororities. Through powerful dances and facial expressions, they showed the audience the significance of their values and history.
I can’t wait to see what MGX has in store, as they promised on their instagram (@lta_betaomicron) a “night full of energy”. The event is free and open to the public; there will also be a chance to participate in mini-games and win prizes.
If you’re still curious as to what kind of experience it may be, I recommend checking out my previous review on the Yardshow (no promises as to how alike they are though). However, the best and most accurate way to find out is by attending yourself tomorrow night!
On the first floor of the Michigan Union there is a showcase full of stories, small moments captured in time that discuss the complex, yet integral, relationship between students and the environment. Amidst a time of climate crisis, this exhibition aims to remind us of the essential ways that we can heal through community, culture, and relationships, and how through these experiences we may discover paths to a better future. “The Future is With Our People” is an art exhibition created by the Student Life Sustainability Cultural Organizers and I cannot recommend it enough. Seriously. Go spend time with it. While you are at it, check out the Cultural Organizers and get familiar with who they are and what they do here — you will not want to miss out.
The opening ceremony of the art installation, held in the South Lounge of the Union last Monday, was filled with music, storytelling, laughter and community. A group of ~10 students and members of the UM community, called to share stories of strength and creativity in a changing climate, came together to share these pieces of themselves. It was the perfect extension of the exhibit itself, allowing the flow of stories to seep into the audience through different forms of performing arts.
The exhibit, on display until February 24th, is a collection of art through a variety of mediums that showcase the artistic ways we can have a conversation about climate and our place within it. The driving question behind the work is this: What about your culture sustains you, your community, and your environment? It is a beautiful web to weave between the shared sustainability between peoples and their environment, each being essential to the other. The artists that are featured allow the audience to look into what this relationship looks like for them. Although I wish the exhibit was given a larger space, its impact cannot be understated; I guarantee that each piece will make you think differently about how people connect with the environment, and the importance of culture and community within that.
Each participating artist had their own unique piece of art and story to tell. Artist Shiryn Anissa Noor Affendi used clay to sculpt one of her pieces, “Labu Sayong,” representing a traditional Malaysian method of using a hollowed out gourd as a water container. She discussed the ways she must find connections between her heritage and her experience at Michigan in order to stay centered. Another artist, Zoi Crampton, collected plastic from the Great Lakes and threaded them together with intention to make a jingle dress, a teaching rooted in Crampton’s Anishinaabe culture, to send prayers toward healing community. Crampton ties this form of art to the healing of the Great Lakes.
I could go on and on about these artists and their stories, but it would make much more sense for you to go see it yourself. This exhibition deserves more time and space at our University, but I am glad to see it for the time that it is here. Thank you to the Cultural Organizers and every artists that participated and created this absolutely beautiful space on our campus.
I had a blast at this year’s Đêm Việt Nam (DVN)! Pictured above was my favorite performance from the night – the opening act done by The Detroit Lion Dance Association. I didn’t expect to see an actual traditional lion dance; it was my first time watching one as well!
It was fascinating in multiple ways. Exclaimed gasps were heard throughout the venue when the two lions suddenly appeared in the aisles. Their dance incorporated humor and storytelling, and the lions themselves showed so much emotion through their movements and eyes alone. One highlight for me was when the lions pretended to drink alcohol and afterward stumbled onto the ground in a deep slumber; then the sound of the drums awakened them and they gathered their surroundings to the rhythmic beat of the instruments. The crowd favorite was the moments when the lions would rise to face either the audience or each other. I’m truly impressed by the stamina and hard work that must’ve been put into this performance.
Despite being a non-dance-based organization, I enjoyed the performances the members of VSA prepared. They incorporated a lot of character and I could tell the students had a lot of fun on stage. I realized at DVN how important lighting is and how it can increase the quality of a viewer’s experience. Darker lighting heightened anticipation in the room; brighter lighting gave playful energy; and pure silhouettes on a colorful background emphasized the movements of the dancers. I think these special effects helped show off the energy the performers wanted to showcase. In my opinion, it also relieved the pressure of giving an immaculate and in-sync performance. The Power Center is an amazing venue and I hope to watch more performances there.
Guy/Girl traditional – this was another one of my favorite performances; the chemistry between the dancers was very charming and I loved all the romantic nuances hidden within their dance moves alongside the use of the hats
Fans – an example of how the background shift can change the atmosphere of a performance. The dark red was very alluring and the dark green let the shape and colors of the fans standout
Traditional Melody – one of the ending acts that incorporates multiple traditional dances and outfits
The event was an appropriate length: not too long that it was tiring or too short that it felt disappointing. I liked the intermittent mini-skits that helped create smooth transitions between different performances too. I even found myself smiling at the heartwarming atmosphere between the club members.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s DVN and hope you guys consider attending in the future too!
If you have time tomorrow evening, consider coming to Đêm Việt Nam (also known as DVN), which is the Vietnamese Student Association’s annual show! The theme this year is “Tìm Đường Về”, which means “Find Your Way Home.”
This will be my first Đêm Việt Nam, so I don’t have a clear picture of what their show is like. However, I know there is a highlight on dancing. These are the specifics listed on their Instagram (@vsa_michigan) post teasing DVN a while back:
Furthermore, they’re featuring a long list of guest performers, some that I found rather surprising:
The Detroit Lion Dance Association – This is a group I haven’t seen before
K-Motion + Female Gayo + DB3 (Kpop-focused dance groups collab)
Revolution (Chinese Yo-yo club)
UMTKD (The University of Michigan Tae Kwon Do Club) – I didn’t expect there to be a martial arts performance!
Photonix (Glowstick Performance Group)
It’ll be at the Power Center tomorrow, which is a really nice venue that holds various professional performances like ballet, theater, etc. The doors will open at 6:00 PM but the actual performances will be from 7-9 PM. You can buy tickets (they’re beautifully designed by the way) at the door, so if you’re looking for something to do Saturday night, stop by for some exciting performances!