An hour before Culture Shock, a competitive performance event between multicultural artists, started, audience members were already waiting in long lines to enter the Mandela Room. As the DJ played Nicki Minaj and Migos before the hosts, Kudirat Adelabu, a senior majoring in nursing and Daniel Adeyanju, ‘13, walked onto the stage, audience members and judges were dancing and singing in their seats.
Celebrating its 30th year, the African Student Organization (ASO) hosted this year’s Culture Shock, which is open to all communities and backgrounds at Binghamton University. ASO brands the event as a way for students to collaborate and express themselves through the arts and recognize their heritage. The event provides a safe space for people of all nationalities and ethnicities to have an entertaining night where they can let loose and enjoy the arts.
The lineup included Binghamton Bhangra, BU’s high-energy coed dance group that derives its name from the Punjabi folk dance; Quimbamba, an Afro-Latinx coed dance team; and Black Dance Repertoire (BDR). The performers were competing for a $500 cash prize and the tension for first place was present since Uyai Nnua, BU’s African dance group, had the stress of maintaining its winning streak. The judging panel was composed of Katie Lhungay, a junior majoring in political science, Noah Salwen, a senior majoring in environmental science and Samuel Elikem Kwame Nyamuame, a visiting assistant professor of music.
“[We look for] creativity and technique, because in dance, especially modern dance, there’s only so much you can do,” Lhungay said. “I look for more creativity in the dance and how they play out with the music.”
Riane Pares-Kane, the vice president of BDR and a junior double-majoring in human development and Latin American and Caribbean American studies, noted that an extreme amount of rehearsal time went into preparing for their performance for Culture Shock so they could impress not only the judges, but also the audience.
“All the competitors were really fierce this year,” said Pares-Kane. “We really pushed ourselves to our max. We started rehearsals three weeks ago [and] we rehearse every day, two hours a day.”
The first performance of the night was Binghamton Bhangra, and following their lively, colorful dance was the musical collaboration, Precious and Robert. Their performance was a throwback medley of popular songs from the ’90s such as “No Scrubs” by TLC. Precious and Robert had smooth harmonies along with acoustic guitar to add some rhythm to the slow, chill performance.
Many were excited to see them perform, and Precious and Robert have been on hiatus since their first performance at Culture Shock in 2015. Yet, as explained by Precious Johnson, a senior majoring in theatre, her fellow collaborator, Robert Edwards, a senior majoring in theatre, contacted her to see if she would be willing to collaborate and perform with him again. So, they decided to bring back the mashup of ’90s songs they made a few years ago and perform it at Culture Shock. Following Precious and Robert was Quimbamba, which took the cash prize and first place, then BDR.
BDR inspired its dance around themes related to “The Purge.” The group had a fiery performance, and audience members left their seats and hurried to the front of the stage to get a closer view of the dancers. The dedication BDR put into its performance was apparent, especially when several dancers moved in unison to create the shape of a car.
Johnson said that Culture Shock is important to BU’s history and develops the diverse culture of the University all in one night.
“[Culture Shock] brings the community together for a night,” Johnson said. “Culture Shock is always positive, always positive vibes, always good vibes.”
Pares-Kane expressed that the distinct nature of Culture Shock provides a platform for all artists to come together and demonstrate their widespread talent.
“Culture Shock is one of the few shows where basically anyone, any team can show their talent, so it differs from a lot of the different shows where maybe there’s an event where they just want one of us to perform,” Pares-Kane said. “But Culture Shock is where we can all show our strengths.”