Cabaret displays beauty of different cultures

Olivia Hendricks

After each act, an elementary-school girl seated nearby exclaimed, “That was beautiful!” This utterance pretty much sums up “A Window to the World,” Lawrence International’s 33rd Annual Cabaret, which took place Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
Upon introducing the show, LI president Tanuja Devaraj called Cabaret “a beautiful, adventurous, exciting experience” and “a fusion of cultures like nothing else.” This description was not an exaggeration. Through 17 musical performances from countries including Vietnam, China, Brazil, Sudan, Ethiopia, Spain and Ukraine, over 100 performers exposed a packed house to both modern and traditional aspects of many cultures. Following the performances, LI served a buffet at Lucy’s featuring foods of various nationalities.
Simply walking into the chapel made it clear the show would be fun and colorful. Bright flags from many different nations hung from the balcony. Many students with international backgrounds came wearing their traditional clothing and beautiful colors and patterns could be seen throughout the crowd.
In addition to the bright colors, the wit of the emcees for the evening contributed to the energy of the event. Though some of the jokes may have been inappropriate for families in the audience, the jokes actually served to create an inclusive cultural atmosphere – topics of humor included deportation and the temptation of Brazilian Carnival. This lighthearted tone encouraged the audience to understand culture as a living, fluid, all-encompassing concept that is more than just pretty outfits and music.
It is nearly impossible to pinpoint highlights of the show, as each performance was unique and had its own story to tell. However, not to note at least several of the performers’ accomplishments would be just as foolish.
In the first half of the show, a Vietnamese fan dance that, according to the emcees, “takes inspiration from a particular metaphor,” in this case a blossoming flower, was an artistic treat for that rainy Sunday. The fans held by the women were bright pink with rippling edges that really looked like enormous petals as the performers moved them in various designs. “Belalla Na,” a Sudanese wedding song performed by Nidal Kram, was beautiful because of the solo act’s simplicity.
In the second half of the performance, Lawrence’s Beats on My Body ensemble performed for the first time. A body percussion group, the ensemble used an impressive variety of clapping, stomping and vocal percussive techniques to create a unified, rhythmic beat. The final performance was a Ukrainian Hopak dance, notable for the breakneck tempo to which the dancers perpetually stepped.
In every performance, however, a certain quality attested to the importance of culture. Each number was performed with great enthusiasm, pride and attitude. The power the performers asserted over their presentation, even if it was an art not native to them, affirmed the role of culture as a means for expressing confidence, passion, and, as even one of the youngest audience members noted, beauty.