Dancing Through the Ages

From BB King to Michael Jackson to a hilarious rendition of Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘n Out, the Af-Lat-Am Coffeehouse last Friday night kept the audience on the edges of their seats. The coffeehouse, organized by Todd Kwao-Vovo ’06, Tanisha Colon-Bibb ’06, and Chelsea Woods ’07, was a huge success, seamlessly integrating different aspects of black and Latino culture into the show. The theme of the show was Dancing Through the Decades. Ms. Griffith, faculty advisor and Dean of Community and Multicultural Development said, “The decade idea is one that Tanisha has been talking to me about for two years, so it is wonderful to see her vision realized in her senior year. Chelsea was responsible for much of the production of the show, designing lights and assisting with organizing tech and various acts. Todd helped with overall coordination in a variety of ways and, of course, performed.” After a few technical difficulties with a 60s-themed video clip, Nkem Oghedo ’08, Hailee Minor ’08, and Akosua Ayim ’07 sang “I Say A Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin. Despite the rough start with the movie, their last note was nearly drowned out by the audience’s cheers and clapping. This act was followed by Catherine Castillo’s ’06 dance routine to BB King’s song “The Thrill is Gone.” The dance deepened the 60’s vibe and incorporated a jazz aspect to the show. Embellishing on the jazz theme, Kevin Olusola ’06 played a flawless and 60’s style saxophone solo. Wrapping up the decade, SLAM performed for their last time this season. They incorporated the 60’s by representing the black Civil Rights Movement by dressing all in black. Ten years flashed by and it was time for the 70s, beginning with a poetry reading featuring Erika Chow ’06, Jess Cole ’08, Joel Gonzalez ’09, and Menelik Washington ’09. The poems were about a range of topics, starting with Chow’s poem about a girl whose mother abuses her. “The 70s were a lot about self-expression, and so this poem was on the more personal level,” said Chow. Following these four powerful poems, Delia Tepozan ’07 lit up the stage with her colorful costume and wonderfully choreographed Mexican dance. Shortly following this dance, David Clark ’06 performed Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky.” After a short pause, the lights came up on Kelicia Hollis ’08, who began a poem first performed in the 60s. To begin the 80s, Colon-Bibb played an “I Love the 80s” movie, featuring 80’s music and pictures of Michael Jackson and The Fresh Prince. As soon as the clip ended, Kwao-Vovo, Edwin Kulubya ‘06, Clinton Prospere ‘06, Jonathan Rivas ‘06, Terrence Green ‘06, Randy Garcia ‘06, and Jonathan Figueroa ‘06, danced on stage wearing colorful tee-shirts and reenacting the boy band New Edition. Next on the program, Kara Hollis ’07, Johnny Mok ’08, Frank Pinto ’08, and Lou Tejada ’08 performed a break dancing routine. “Frank actually taught me how to break-dance two days before the show so that I could be in the act with them,” said Hollis. In a different tone, Def Poets Desmond Bonhomme-Isaiah, Jonathan Figueroa, and Anna Ho, all ’06, passionately read some of their work. As they concluded their poems, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” began playing and Dakota Joseph ’07, Atima Lui ’08, Todd Kwao-Vovo ’06, Elinel Almanzar ’07, Dacone Elliot ’08, Mercy Bell ‘08 Carolyn Chica ‘08 Hailee Minor ‘08 and Nkem Oghedo ’08 limped onstage in ripped tee-shirts and zombie-like clothing. The dance, choreographed by Joseph, was well-known and entertaining. This act was followed by an amazing dance, also choreographed by Joseph. It was performed by Joseph and Kwao-Vovo to the song Billie Jean. The 90’s finally arrived and Lui, Olusola, and Adriana Flores ’08 performed the song “Killing me Softly” by the Fugees. Next, Edwin Diaz ’07, Ikechi Ngwangwa ’07, Brian Louie ’07, Jonathan Louie ’07, and Travis Wright ’08, performed a medley of Dru Hill songs “We decided to do a Dru Hill song because we wanted to do something original. We wanted to show off our dancing skills and help everyone remember how it was back in the day,” said Jonathan Louie. Following this act, Akosua Ayim showcased her own song “Complicated Melodies” with the help of Bell, Minor, Elliot, and Chica. “That was the first time I’d ever performed an original musical piece to an audience as big as that,” said Ayim. A comical interpretation of Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘n Out followed, with the Red Team and the Black Team facing off in a variety of improv skits. “We Run This”, a new song by Missy Elliot, began playing and Elliot, Ayim, Minor, Bell, and Oghedo, dressed in blue and white faced off in a choreographed dance by Elliot. The color-coordination, Converses, and Fresh Prince dance moves all added to the performance. “Even though the song was released recently, there are so many parts that come from the 90s that it was appropriate to put it between the end of the 90s and the modern stuff,” said Ayim. To conclude the show, Movement City, a network in Lawrence that helps teenagers, ages 10-19, get involved in performance arts and other activities, featured their Gospel Choir, Urban X, and ROA. The entire cast of the show danced onstage behind this final act, concluding what is said to be a “fun-filled and energetic night”. Griffith concluded, “I thought the show demonstrated the immense talent of many of our students. Our intent was to share some artistic traditions of these cultures with the greater community. I would love to see a show like this on campus every year!”