The Eyeopener’s Adrian Morrow broke out his notepad while Mikhel Fortey grabbed a camera and checked out the third-annual show that puts Ryerson’s many cultures in the spotlight.
With traditional ethnic dances and dress blended with contemporary pop culture and the occasional political messages, Ryerson’s third-annual Multicultural Show was a raucous pep rally for diversity.
Held Saturday night at the Ryerson Theatre, the event showcased performances from Ryerson’s cultural and ethnic student clubs.
While most of the performances focused on song and dance, there was also a short fashion show, a routine featuring flags from around the world, and some spoken word performances.
Sanjid Anik, president of the Bangladeshi Students’ Association, said he wants to see performances that dig deeper into each culture.
“I’d like to see all clubs bring the real content of their culture, not just trendy or pop culture things,” Anik said.
He planned to read an English translation of a Bangladeshi poem while other members of the club held candles on a dark stage. But the performers weren’t allowed to bring the lighted candles on stage and used green glow sticks instead.
Other contemporary influences found their way into several performances.
The West Indies Students’ Association incorporated dance-hall music into an extended dance routine that also used traditional forms.
When one group announced it was going to perform something “desi,” a contemporary cultural blend of south Asian and western influences, audience members erupted in cheers.
Ethnic and religious groups currently dominate Ryerson clubs. Of the more than 60 groups listed on the RSU website, over two-thirds are based around a specific ethno-cultural group or a religion.
Nyla Chattergoon, a fourth-year student with the West Indies Students’ Association, said the appeal of a club with an ethnic focus is clear.
“(You get) to meet people who have that background in common with you,” she said. “It makes you feel like you’re back home.”
“It’s easier to mingle with people of your own culture,” said Faisal Hussain, who performed with the Pakistani Students’ Association. He added that this is the only chance he gets to dance with people in his own culture.
Ahmed El Kaffas, who performed a dance with the Arab Students’ Association, said that he joined the club because of his interest in politics, and he wants to combat Arab stereotypes.
“It’s not a race,” Kaffas said, “it’s a culture.”
Anik and Chattergoon said their groups are open to all students, regardless of their cultural background.
Out of roughly 600 people on their mailing list, thirty per cent are not West Indian, Chattergoon said. While the Pakistani Students’ Association is open to all students, Hussain said that they haven’t had any members with a different cultural background.
“Anyone can join if they can keep up with our moves,” he said. “Our dance moves are hard to learn.”