Global Talent: Drums, Dance, Rock

It’s not often that one finds crossdressers, French singers, and studly dancers all in the same room. Last Saturday, the seemingly impossible became a reality. The International Talent Show started with a bang, literally, as Taiko drummers Maria Lechtarova ’06 and Todd Kwao-vovo ’06 took the stage by storm. Despite breaking one of his drumsticks, Kwao-vovo kept his composure, as well as the beat. Completely outfitted in black and sporting Japanese headbands, the pair struck the drums in unison and used the powerful rhythm of Taiko drumming to enhance the introduction to the show. Jasmine Baek ’06 and Henry Yi ’07 presided over the events of the evening as President and Vice President of the International Club, respectively. Promoting the relaxed and amusing atmosphere that the International Club encourages, Baek and Yi dressed and acted as one another. Fully dressed in each other’s clothes, they introduced the upcoming performers while light-heartedly poking fun at themselves. The pair did an admirable job keeping the audience’s attention and maintaining the brisk pace of the show. The few glitches in their presentation were explained by Baek, “We try to put a lot of variety in our acts, and it is always hard because it is difficult to prepare – we never have enough time to prepare and rehearse and this year was especially shaky because there was no full rehearsal before the show.” The next act, “Indian Dance,” was equally ridiculous and entertaining. Rajeev Saxena ’06, along with his dance partners Edwin Kulubya ’06 and Jonathan Rivas ’06, rocked Kemper with intricate choreography set to the lively beat of a Hindi pop song. Originally choreographed for him to perform in his home town of Las Vegas, Saxena added on two more boys to the dance, and with three weeks of preparation, the team produced an excellent act. Saxena said, “It shows how with some practice I was able to get two non-Indian kids up to speed with the native dancing.” As this type of dancing is popular with Indian families such as Saxena’s, he explained how fun it was to practice and understand it. Contrasting the catchy beat of the Bollywood tunes, the next dance act, “Raving,” demonstrated another end of the cultural spectrum. It displayed a modern dance and party subculture originating in the new-age Asia. The darkened theater, fast music, and streaks of green, red, and blue light boosted the energy of the crowd. Music followed the dances; the performance of “Vent Frais” by Emily Pollokoff ’06, Baek, and Yin incorporated casual humor with the French-Canadian song. Their voices were sweet in collaboration, but the performance was a bit stiff, particularly when compared to the humorous intro to the tune. The most moving performance of the night came from Chris Li ’07 and Olivia Pei ’07, singing “A Whole New World” to each other in Chinese and French while accompanied by Jim Larson ’07 on the violin and Justin Chew ’07 on the piano. The charming dance Li and Pei shared during the musical interlude was especially touching. “The Ravishing” closed the performance section of the festival. Ben Lasman ’06, Katherine Adams ’06 and Andrew Hung ’06 inspired the audience with their original musical numbers. Although it was a loud contrast to the rest of the show, the audience was impressed. “Our music is like, funk and pop, punk and jazz as well as some jam band mixed” said Hung about his band’s style. With a night of dance, music and light humor, the International Arts Festival was a success.