Colors of Rhythm celebrates diversity
Colors of Rhythm drew an immense number of Oberlin’s students, emphasizing the salience of the tradition. What is a celebration without the inclusion of the community? A shared sense of celebration and inclusion is exactly what characterized the Colors of Rhythm (COR) program this year.
Every year COR provides a space for people of color at Oberlin to celebrate the arts of spoken word, dance and music. The press release explains, “COR provides a form and gives a voice to disenfranchised artists and performers of color. In addition to creating a space, COR works towards coalition building in celebration of multiculturalism at Oberlin College and beyond.”
Groups of students worked to organize dances and other forms of artistic expression with apparent focus and dedication. This year’s Colors of Rhythm Committee included senior Amber M. Coleman, junior Ozlem Akcakoca, junior Christina Bridoneria, junior Taisha Rodriguez and sophomore Umra Omar. It isn’t hard to imagine in the work these women exercised in organizing a program with over 40 performers and ten different groups.
This year’s COR was dedicated to Rachel Beverly. Senior Julie Dulani opened the show with a dedication speech, recalling the fond memories and encouragement Beverly provided for countless students on campus. Moved, Dulani emphasized that had Beverly been present, she would have enjoyed the show. After Dulani’s dedication, Umra Omar and Marie-Stella Essilfie performed a dance based on African hip-hop. “Sino Kami?/‘Who are we?’” is a dance of memory, identity and cultural progression in the lives of Filipino American Students at Oberlin. There was also Caminos, an Afro-Cuban dance ensemble whose dance represented women’s “sensuality and hardships with men.” The “Hano hano ka lie pikake,” a modern hula, was a passionate dance. The dances displayed an incredible isolation of their hips throughout the dance.
Highlights of the evening included “Cultural Appropriation
Beautiful, deliberate and exciting as well as acrobatic are words to describe the Salsa/Mambo performed by junior Christopher Jordan and Chika Aiza, OC ’02, the Arabian Nights dance and the lyricism of “Minority Report” performed by sophomore Ramaesh Bhagirat, first-year Jovan Campbell, first-year Darryle Johnson and music by junior Germaine Gardener.
Dance, music and lyricism as cultural and personal expression is what Colors of Rhythm has come to symbolize. This is exactly the reason why it has been maintained as a fundamental Oberlin tradition.