Students Share Cultures Through Fashion and Talent in iShowcase

With loud beats and quick kicks of her legs, Sydney Olney ’18 performed an Irish dance to “Devil’s Dance Floor” by Flogging Molly, a punk rock song twice the speed of a typical Irish dance song. Olney began clapping her hands before rising up to the balls of her feet and rapidly swinging her legs forward and backward, finally finishing with an abrupt high kick.

“I danced competitively for eight years, and I continued to until I fractured both of the balls of my feet from dancing. I went through eight months of physical therapy, and then I came back, and the same thing happened so I had to stop, but I’ve always wanted to do it again,” said Olney.

Olney’s performance was one of the 13 acts at iShowcase, the talent and fashion portion of iFest, last Saturday night.

To kick off the night, Anupreeth Coramutla ’17, Rohan Lewis ’17, Anjay Shah ’17, Anjunae Chandran ’18, and Nithish Kilpat ’18 mixed Indian and Western culture by performing a dance they choreographed. Set to a remix of a popular Indian EDM track by Kabir Nagral ’19, the boys dabbed and jumped in circles on one leg in their traditional Indian kurtas, or loose collarless shirts.

“None of us are really gifted in Indian dance, so we thought the least we could do was try to fuse the two. We wanted to be able to put on a show that reflects both our culture here at Andover, through which we showed through some of the dance moves that were American, and traditional dance moves that were also interspersed,” said Lewis.

Blake Campbell ’18, an iClub Upper Representative, sang “Fanm se Kajou” by Bekenn, a Haitian artist, with Louis Aaron ’18 accompanying her on the guitar. Campbell sang the song quietly yet soulfully, creating a sense of comfort in the room. As Aaron’s guitar intensified, Campbell concluded the song with a drawn out high note.

“I don’t feel like there’s a lot of Caribbean representation – especially from Haiti – on this campus, so I thought it would be really cool for people to have someone who’s actually from Haitian descent show the beauty of the music and the culture that’s from there. The style of music is different from what we usually here in America, so I thought it’d be pretty cool to have,” said Campbell.

Shyan Koul ’19 took the stage with a solo act, performing “Chon Pakinyoo,” a traditional folk song from Kashmir, the northernmost part of India, that his mother sang to him when he was younger. Koul sang the rhythmic song with a deep fervor, enunciating each syllable powerfully. The high and low notes demonstrated his vocal technique, and he varied the tone of the song by suddenly speeding up and slowing down during the performance.

“Over the summer, I developed this theory: if you don’t care enough about something to do something about it, then you’re not allowed to complain about it. I have always [thought] that no one knows about where Kashmir is, what Kashmir is, what’s happening in Kashmir, so I thought that I better do something about it, sing a song, show a little bit about the culture, and show people the beauty of my culture,” said Koul.

Tanvi Kanchinadam ’19, co-president of Hindu Student Union, modeled her traditional Indian dress. She wore a gold and black salwar kameez, or a tunic and loose pants, paired with a chunni, or a sash slung across her right shoulder. Chunnis were originally Mogul fashion, but it was incorporated by the Hindus after their victory over the Moguls.

“[Hosshini Suraj ’19, co-president of Hindu Student Union, and I] thought that a lot of people on campus didn’t really know a lot about India or didn’t really know a lot about what it meant to celebrate something like Diwali, and I think that dressing up for the occasion to show people what you wear showed what it meant to celebrate Diwali,” said Kanchinadam.

iShowcase provided an opportunity for students on campus to learn about and experience international students’ culture through music, dance, and fashion.

“I just thought it was a really good way to bring all these different cultures together because with a lot of international students here. I feel like they don’t really get to experience their culture as well in this environment in the United States, so I thought it was really interesting in how they could share that with everyone. It was a really cool way to learn about the cultures, not just in a class through a textbook, but actually visually seeing and listening to everything,” said Emily Jackson ’19, an audience member.

Editor’s Note: Anjunae Chandran and Nithish Kilpat are Associate Sports Editors for The Phillipian.