The FIUTS CulturalFest performance showcase, again partially sponsored by the Center for Global Studies, is a chance to explore the world. Students, alumni, faculty and others—people from unique backgrounds—came together to put on this showcase, inviting all to come and experience the beautiful sights and sounds of multiple cultures.
Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that advances international understanding through cross-cultural experiences, student leadership and community connections. Executive Director Era Schrepfer welcomed the audience to the 2018 CulturalFest:
At a time when it feels as if cultural and ideological differences divide us more than ever, FIUTS CulturalFest is proof that these same differences have the power to bring us closer together. A celebration of the cultural diversity of FIUTS students, alumni, and community members, CulturalFest inspires understanding, discourse, and sharing across national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries.
For the thousands of international students who join the FIUTS and UW communities each year to share experiences, practice leadership, and engage with others, CulturalFest is a chance to express the unique culture and character of their own corner of the globe. But it’s also a celebration of FIUTS.
According to FIUTS‘ history, students of FIUTS have performed in cultural shows since it’s founding in 1948. During the 1960s and ’70s, FIUTS produced large cultural celebrations in the Seattle Opera House. Those celebrations eventually grew into a one- or two-day experience called CulturalFest, produced by the FIUTS student board since 2000.
The explanations below of the performances for the night are in the own words of the CulturalFest performers. Photos by Ester Ouli Kim.
Unplugged, South Asian Band
Unplugged arranges and performs mixes of Eastern and Western music to celebrate the diverse backgrounds of the UW community and create a welcoming and fun musical experience for the audience and members. Unplugged performed a mashup of a traditional Carnatic piece called “Raghuvamsa Sudha” and a Hindustani piece called “Albela Sajan.” The two pieces, while very different in origin, share many musical qualities that when brought together complement the subtleties that lie within. Their second piece had a very different tone as they brought together a Hindi rock piece called “Bulleye” and Adele’s “Skyfall.” Unplugged hoped to use the two pieces to showcase their global musical mission.
Pilialoha Pau’ole, Hawaiian Dance
Pilialoha Pau’ole, meaning “Everlasting Friendship,” is the name and underlying theme of this performance by a group of UW undergraduate students who are either Native Hawaiian or trained hula dancers. Their first song, “Kawika,” is a kahiko (ancient style dance) that many dancers learn in the beginning of their training. The chant honors King David Kalakaua, who was largely responsible for ending the ban on hula and reinvigorating the Hawaiian culture. Their second song, “Me Ku’u One Hanau E” by Nathan Aweau is an ‘auana (modern style dance) that means “The Place of My Birth.” In this song, Aweau describes the different aspects of his love for Hawai’i and the Hawaiian people, while the dancers also draw from their own feelings for their respective birthplaces and the people they call home.
UW Salsa Club, Latin American Dance
Salsa, originally called mambo, is a Latin dance that originated in Cuba. Mambo’s vivid and lively sound comes from a fusion of Spanish and Afro-Caribbean music. After mambo reached North America in the late 1940s, it became known as salsa. UW Salsa Club performed to the music of Tito Puente, an iconic Puerto Rican musician and songwriter, born in Spanish Harlem of New York in 1923. Often hailed as “the King of Latin Dance,” Tito Puente created music full of energy, vibrancy, and joy of dancing.
Chhandam School of Kathak Dance, North Indian Classical Dance
Kathak comes from the word “katha,” which means story, so one that performs the dance is a storyteller. Originating from Northern India, Kathak is a North Indian classical dance highlighted by its characteristic fast spins and complex footwork patterns. As a result of being preserved through the courts, the art form uniquely combines the influence of both Hindu and Muslim rule over India. That night’s piece was a fast-paced rhythmical duet that incorporates this blend of cultures and showcases an exchange between the music and the dancers.
Husky Wushu Club, Chinese Martial Arts
The Husky Wushu team consists of a small collective of disciplined and motivated individuals practicing the Chinese martial art, Wushu. With styles originating from Hong Kong and He Nan, China, this group brought a dynamic and intense performance. Utilizing a variety of fist forms and weapon sets, the Husky Wushu members were proud to perform their art and promote the ideals and traditions of Chinese martial arts.
Hanwoollim UW, South Korean Drumming
Hanwoollim is a student-led organization formed at the University of Washington that performs Samulnori, a genre of percussion music originating in Korea. Samulnori translates as four sounds and is performed with four traditional Korean instruments, each evoking elements from the weather: a “kkwaenggwari” small gong (lightning), a “jing” large gong (wind), a “buk” double-sided bass drum (clouds), and a “janggu” hourglass-shaped drum (rain). Their performance was a farmer’s dance which includes chanting. This chanting is a song about the life of a farmer and his wish to have a good harvest. Hanwoollim hoped people would enjoy the energetic performance depicting Korean folk history.
UW Khatad, Mongolian Dance
“Anu Khatan,” which literally translates as “Queen Anu,” is a newly choreographed folk dance. Queen Anu lived in the 17th century and died a hero in a battle while rescuing her husband. The dance choreography shows the processes in which Queen Anu leads her fellow soldiers (all female) into the battle. Female power takes the stage in this dance.
Sangeet Moksha, Indian Band
Sangeet Moksha, a multicultural group, is part of a non-profit organization called Sahaja Yoga Meditation, sharing the experience of inner peace through music and meditation. Sangeet Moksha utilizes uplifting, soothing, and spiritual music to connect their audience to this inner state of joy and meditation. They performed a medley of traditional Indian songs sung in three different languages, Marathi, Hindi, and Urdu, and featured guitar, harmonium, dholak, clarinet, and tabla. Clapping is an integral part of the performance, setting a lively rhythm so Sangeet Moksha encouraged the audience to join in. The lyrics celebrated the joy of togetherness that goes beyond religious and cultural differences: “In my hand I’ll take the flag of knowledge. I will remove all the differences.”
Rae Wong, Chinese Classical Dance
Rae Wong performed “Divine Lotus.” Chinese classical dance is a dance form that exemplifies China’s rich culture as well as history through its emphasis on lines, form, fluidity, and integration of WuShu. “Divine Lotus” demonstrates a popularized Chinese classical dance style (Modern Chinese classical dance), a relatively new dance form that originated in 1950 and was practiced mostly by Beijing Dance Academy. This dance piece depicts a lotus rising from the mud and mire, pure and pristine, growing towards the sun as its delicate pink petals flourish amongst the pond’s lily pads.
Taiko Kai, Japanese Drumming
Taiko is a form of Japanese ensemble drumming also known as kumi-daiko. Taiko Kai performed two songs that night: “Hachijo” and “Matsuri.” “Hachijo” is a piece written by the group Ondekoza. It draws inspiration from the tale of Ukita Hideie, a samurai who, after being exiled to the island of Hachijo-jima, exchanged his swords for bachi. This song has choreography that mimics the form of samurai. “Matsuri,” written by Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, is inspired by festival beats that Tanaka-sensei heard back in Japan. It’s meant to be a fun and upbeat song with lots of energy.
The showcase in Meany Hall at the University of Washington was organized by FIUTS and sponsored by: the Center for Global Studies, Associated Students University of Washington, UW Alumni Association, the HUB, Office of Arts and Culture Seattle, Studio 5 Design, Wells Fargo; presenting sponsors bridges @ 11th, HUB U District Seattle, Twelve at U District; and media sponsor KUOW.
Explore the world at CulturalFest next year at this annual event.