Kaleidescope shows off international talents

Courtesy of the Vassar Office of International Services

The waving of 37 flags by student representatives from 37 nations kickstarted the 19th annual Kaleidoscope. Hosted by Vassar’s Office of International Services (OIS) and Vassar’s International Students Association (VISA), Kaleidoscope is the largest international festival of the year and features talent shows, a photo contest, a diverse array of food from different cultures and a dessert cook off. The evening is dedicated to fostering community at Vassar and a sense of belonging for students far away from home. Students reveled in that slight feeling of homesickness as they tasted the familiar spices unknown to the Deece, and listened to the songs that WVKR would never play. While hosted by organizations geared towards international students, Kaleidoscope welcomed all students, including students from Bard College, with open arms. VISA president Rebecca Scalpelli ’22 claimed that it is among the most important events of the year: “It’s open to everyone so it’s a great opportunity for people to learn more about each other’s backgrounds and celebrate the diversity that exists at Vassar.”

The “World’s Got Talent” portion of Kaleidoscope is always a highlight. From the iconic Post-Soviets, a Russian department band featuring Assistant Professor of Russian Studies Charles Arndt III and students, to renditions of student organization Sori’s samulnori, traditional Korean percussion music, all performances celebrated culture through art. 

Dhriti Swarup ’23 performed a solo abhinaya, an Indian dance performance emphasizing gestures and facial expressions. “This piece is called ‘Kanha bin,’ which means ‘without Krishna,’” explained Swarup before she began her show. “It depicts Radha, as she sits waiting desolately for her beloved Krishna. In her agony, she tears away her jewelry and rips the flowers from her hair. She disconsolately throws pebbles in the river while she waits for him.” Swarup began her narration through physical displays of emotions in sync with the background music, while remaining seated with chin lifted elegantly for the entirety of the performance. Her furrowed brows and clenched fists portrayed yearning and provoked the tense sensation of reaching for something you can’t quite obtain. Swarup revealed the symbolic message behind this nonverbal storyline: “Radha embodies the human quest for spiritual growth and the union with the divine, and this piece symbolises the agony which we feel when we are not able to attain the perfection of Lord Krishna.”

A number of students students were similarly eager to share aspects of their own cultures through music and movement. The Post Soviets Band and Let’s Nacho, an exuberant, student-led Bollywood dance organization, opened the Talent Show. Their high-spirited performances drew cheers and applause from the audience. Next, Josh Kim ‘20 changed the pace of the night with his touching performance singing emotional Korean love songs. His artistry definitely moved many K-drama fans in the crowd. With a similar smooth ambience, Laura Yang ’21 and Jacy Sun’s ’20 @performed a breathtakingly graceful Chinese dance, gliding swiftly to a classic tune played on a guzheng, a traditional Chinese zither. “This dance piece, in the style of HanTang dance, depicts the most prosperous period in ancient China and the most charismatic woman of the time” said Laura ’20, whose hands imitated the blooming of a flower at the culminating moment of the performance, perfecting the subtle layer of precision in seemingly simple movements of Chinese dance. Vassar’s Korean Dance Crew (KoDC) performed for their third year running, storming the dance floor and cheering on with exclamations like ‘whoo’ and ‘yes!’ as their fellow members danced to the tunes of their favorite K-Pop stars. Their performance clearly brought down the house, as it secured them a first-place finish for this year’s “World Got Talent.”

Another eye-catching, heart-winning, stomach-filling part of Kaleidoscope was the gastronomic tour of foods catered from 12 different restaurants. From Chinese jiaozi and chowmeins to Greek spinach pies and hummus, VISA and OIS took the extra step to include food from a variety of cultures represented at Vassar. Avid bakers earned a free entry ticket for every dish they contributed to the Dessert Bake-Off. This encouraged fierce competition between sweet delights ranging from classic apple pies to Brown Sugar glazed mochis. 

Kaleidoscope celebrates culture, community and affection. With the encouragement from friends and audiences along with the comfort from food, events like these are what make all students feel more at home in their Vassar community. 

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