By Sareema Husain
The Ryerson Student Union’s (RSU) Culture Jam week ended on Feb. 4 with their annual showcase held at the Winter Garden Theatre.
After weeks of rehearsals, over 15 Ryerson student groups presented a variety of routines, ranging from colourful cultural dances, spoken word pieces, musical performances, comedy skits and beat boxing.
Victor Copetti, a fourth-year urban planning student and the president of Ryerson’s only music student group, Musicians@Ryerson, performed a medley of songs with a few other students that night.
“I think our Culture Jam performance for this year [went] really well, possibly our best yet,” said Copetti.
As a performer, he said he also appreciated the ambience of the elegant theatre.
“The best parts of performing is the venue and the energy,” said Copetti. “We normally wouldn’t get a chance to play at the Winter Garden, but through Culture Jam, we can.”
Culture Jam week celebrates the diversity in music, food and clothes, but most importantly, it provides a platform for students to experience each other’s cultures.
“In a city as diverse as Toronto, it is important that we have a medium for students to express and showcase the many aspects of their cultures,” said Rabia Idrees, the RSU’s vice-president equity.
Representation is important and it’s why the Ryerson East African Student Association (REASA) decided to participate, despite initially opting out.
“Last Tuesday I was approached by a student who was upset the REASA would not be represented during the show,” said Ekram Abubaker, a third-year business management student. “So I grabbed a couple of guys and girls and for the next two nights we practiced near the nursing lounge. Some of the guys that participated were a bit reluctant at first, they hadn’t publicly danced before, but honestly, I was so proud of the final product and of the people that came out to support our team.”
Awards were presented at the end of the show by the RSU. To list a few, overall cohesiveness was given to the South Asian Alliance for their upbeat, romantic dances. The award for choreography and coordination was given to the Ryerson Indian Student Association for their complex moves. The Vietnamese Student Association received the energy and stage presence award because of having over 25 students on stage and incorporated decorative red fans into their routines.
The award for best theme was given to Ryerson Sri Lankan Student Alliance. It was Ramya Selladurai’s, a third-year biology student, first time performing as part of the Sri Lankan Student Alliance and she said the process was hectic, but rewarding.
“It was a lot of hard work but it paid off. It took about two-and-a-half months – the music, the remixing, getting everyone to come to practices and the costumes,” said Selladurai. “We made a whole new family and I would do this a thousand times over.”
The diversity at Ryerson was put under a spotlight during the Culture Jam and it enabled students to get in touch with their roots and be open to other cultures.
“We had a lot of students come out to show their support for not only their represented country, but for Ryerson as a whole,” said Idrees. “It is very important for us to hold events like this because outside of the classroom, there are not many opportunities to understand the background of where their peers come from.”