By Cara Ip, Features Editor
On March 13, 2018, Mills held its annual International Assembly to celebrate various cultures all around the world. A diverse group of students performed a set of traditions and dances as a way to share with Mills students their distinct and varied backgrounds.
The assembly opened with the American National Anthem sung by sophomore Hailey Ung. To honor our nation, students stood up and listened as Ung proudly belted out the Star Spangled Banner.
As students settled down in their seats, the Latina Mentor Program (LMP) students took the stage to perform their traditional dance. The first group were a set of underclassmen girls in the program who danced to the songs Son De La Negra and La Tortuga. Fifteen girls and two boys danced in a traditional Mexican style known as Baile Folklorico. The dance includes many elements such as a pointed toes and exaggerated movements. A highlight of the performance was the beautiful Jalisco dresses with intricate patterns worn by the dancers that emphasized the elegant dance moves. Club member and senior Alexandra Garcia praised the team, “We had a lot of new girls came in but they did a great job. The entire team was awesome and I’m very proud of all the hard work we put in and how it all came together.”
Following LMP was the Irish Dancing Club who performed in the style of Riverdance, a popular theatrical Irish dance show. In their green coordinated outfits, the seven dancers captured the audience with their upbeat music and quick steps. The Irish dance was multifaceted, as it began by utilizing a soft shoe technique with light and graceful elements which was promptly followed by a hard shoe style containing invigorating and intense moves. Leader of the group, sophomore Claire Lin, revealed, “The team deserves way more credit than me. Within seven months, being able to learn a whole routine — especially at a beginner level is something that I’m beyond proud of. It’s such an empowering experience to be able to see all our hard work pay off on stage.”
A group of twenty six students then took the spotlight as a part of the Filipino Alliance Association (FAA). They shook the stage with a traditional song that would be played for Tinikling, a Philippine folk dance. The performance consisted of numerous pairs of students who beat and tapped bamboo poles on ground in sync with the rhythm of the 3-count music. While the poles were colliding and separating, the rehearsed dancers took quick steps in between and over the poles as they rotated in a circle, all while maintaining their composure. FAA demonstrated great mastery over the dance and the hours of practice put into the performance were fully reflected. Senior Alexa Julaton, president of FAA, shared, “ I enjoyed the cooperation between the stickers and dancers because the teamwork present in the routine is key to delivering a safe and graceful performance. I am so proud of all them and am grateful for the Kapamilya (family) relationship we built together.”
The Korean Culture Club followed shortly afterwards with an upbeat and catchy performance. With a total of thirteen dancers, the group danced to popular K-Pop music with a variety of songs such as GOT7’s “Just Right” and and Winner’s “Really Really”. The team worked extremely hard to prepare the performance, from carefully choosing songs with catchy choruses to perfecting the synchronization in their dance moves. KCC spent hours on learning and practicing the numerous choreographies, but expressed that it was all worth it. They shared that they had a great time dancing together and enjoyed the opportunity share their favorite K-pop songs with the Mills community.
Te Pura O Te Rahura’a performed next on center stage, as a Polynesian dance team danced to two Tahitian songs known as Aparima and Ote’a. In general, the Tahitian dance included extended periods of rapid hip shaking movement to a percussion accompaniment, aiming to not only share their cultural dance, but to tell a story with their body language. The four members of the Mills team take part in a larger Polynesian dance team at the Spark of Creation Studio, who choreographed the performance. Senior Ashlyn Lee, a dancer in the group, stated, “We enjoyed being able to expose students to a different style of dance, one they most likely never heard of. We are also very thankful that leadership asked us to perform at the assembly to let us share our love for the Polynesian Culture through dance.”
Lastly, the Mills Polynesian Club concluded the assembly with two dances. The performance opened with a Hula performance to the song Tamari’i No Tahiti. The dance featured a particular combination of the movement of hands and hips, captivating the crowd. It was then followed by a style of dance known as Tauolunga. With the loud chants and stomps, the Polynesian Club proudly displayed their pride in their culture. The dance in total consisted of about thirty dancers and one of the coordinators, senior Sione Langi, expressed that is gratifying how their annual performance is always remembered and well-received by the audience. He shared, “I just want to thank all that participated and Ms. Wiard for all the support.”
The International Assembly was an unique opportunity for students to experience various cultures and traditions, and the Mills Leadership class worked hard to organize the event in hopes of unifying the school. This sharing of cultures through performances allowed students to become more appreciative of the diversity of their peers, so big thanks to all who performed!