The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts April 20, 2007

Floors of Finney Vibrate with Colors of Rhythm

It was not what I expected — Colors of Rhythm, that is. When I walked into Finney Chapel for COR’s 11th annual performance last Thursday night, I was greeted by a dance beat that pumped through the speakers framing a stage dimly lit with a red tint. My doubts were soon laid to rest: The emcees were wild, the crowd was wilder and the atmosphere was much more informal than I had initially expected.

Even the first dance was slightly deceiving. Cute as they were, the children performing the Chinese dances were not as exhilarating as the other performers. Perhaps they belonged at a different, more formal dance recital. Not to say that they did not get or deserve their fair share of cheers, but I believe it was more for their cute appeal rather than for their dances themselves.

COR represents marginalized groups, allowing them to speak and inform others about the traditions and cultures of minorities. By bringing together a number of different traditional dances from around the world, COR prompts the majority to reflect on its position in the greater hegemonic structure, provoking dialogue and thought about these social relationships.

“Tinikling” was the most fun, and involved a sequence of hitting together and tapping two bamboo sticks to the rhythm while people hopped in and out of them. Just about everyone in the audience laughed and cheered throughout the performance, myself included.

The dance that really enthralled the whole crowd was the “Capoeira Angola.” This Brazilian martial art form uses dance-like combat moves inside a circle, known as a roda. Music is an integral part of capoeira, as it is meant to inspire the movements of those in the middle of the circle.   Each move was part of a fight in slow motion, set to the rhythm of the dance, without any physical contact. The dance was impressively improvised. The audience was quiet, not for a lack of enjoyment, but because it held its breath in amazement.

One of the last dances was a Turkish belly dance. I’ve always been fascinated by the entrancing music and moves that this involves, so it should come as no surprise that it was my favorite dance of the whole night.

The African “Forbidden Dances” were also worth noting, as they provided enough hip movements to keep one’s eyes busy. I also enjoyed the Venezuelan dance, which started off with some cool singing and accompaniment by the performers, and finished off with a smoldering dance sequence.

In addition, I appreciated the “Changes” piece, which promoted unity among ages and races.

In the Oberlin tradition, ticket sales were donated to SOS Village International in Guinea, an organization that helps children whose families cannot take care of them. The group works for the rights of those children, including their rights to care, protection and equal opportunities.


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