With International Fiesta just days away, student groups are putting final touches to the dances that tell their stories.
In classrooms scattered throughout North Campus, choreographers critique the performers. Short water and stretch breaks intertwine with long periods of perfecting dance positions.
In defiance of the stress that comes with preparing for UB’s largest cultural showcase of the year, many students find joy in their clubs’ tight-knit communities to push through the last late-night rehearsals, befitting the fiesta’s theme of “harmony.”
Camaraderie and trust are key to the Filipino-American Student Association’s (FASA) performance of Tinikling, a dance where partners tap bamboo poles against each other and the ground in a musical rhythm.
“It’s really important that we maintain that community aspect to [the practices] and really have fun with each other,” Kyle Chacon, a sophomore nursing major and FASA events coordinator, said. “These practices don’t go like, ‘Hey guys, [go] get everything done.’ It’s more like, we’re going to have fun.”
That’s not to say that the show is just fun and games. For many students, it’s a chance to celebrate their cultural identities and the stories that shaped them.
The dancers in the Bengali Student Association (BSA) swiftly transition from friendly banter to focused practice runs during rehearsal. Their energy captures the carefree companionship that comes from working together as a team and the dedicated mindset needed to do the performance justice.
“These are the people who want to make our country proud,” Fyrose Nower, a senior majoring in information technology management and the president of the Bengali SA, said.
Other students strive to continue their clubs’ past successes while paying homage to their cultural histories.
The Sri Lanka Student Association (SLSA) — the underdog who won second place for their first International Fiesta performance last year — aspires to reach for the top.
Joshane Fernando, president of the SLSA and senior computer science major, believes that the group’s tireless dedication and perseverance are the driving force behind their victory.
“Almost everyone has been coming to practice every single week,” Fernando said. “Some of these guys are actually new dancers, and they’ve impressed me a lot. The growth I’ve seen in just a couple weeks is insane.”
Regardless of the club’s goals, this year’s International Fiesta is uniquely meaningful for each team.
“A lot of International Fiesta themes are honestly pretty vague,” Briana Perez, president of the Latin American Student Association and sophomore biological sciences major, said. “But this one is special in the sense that all of our organizations try so hard to create harmony within ourselves.”
International Fiesta is scheduled for this Saturday on the Center For the Arts (CFA) mainstage.
Mylien Lai is the assistant arts editor and can be contacted at email@example.com
The arts desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mylien Lai is an assistant arts editor at The Spectrum. Outside of getting lost in Buffalo, she enjoys practicing the piano and being a bean plant mom. She can be found at @my_my_my_myliennnn on Instagram.