On March 17, TISA hosted their annual Cultural Outreach event at Showplace Performance Centre. Hundreds of people came to bear witness to an incredible cultural experience that included dance, song, and poetry from all over the world. The event was emceed by the exuberant and hilarious Jorge Rivas-Gonzalez and Ashish Tharoor who helped bring The Story of Us theme to life on stage.

This story was told through a mysterious journal that was said to have the hosts’ names written in it, detailing the narrative surrounding their journey around the world. This journey began in Ireland with the TISA choir performing “My Gallant Darling,” a Gaelic poem about a tragic love story.

The next act had the crowd clapping in tune with the music, as Valentyna Kravets performed a modern rendition of traditional Ukrainian dance. “Made in Zwe,” a mashup of Shona, Ndebele, South African and Zimbabwean dance followed with a vibrant performance that everyone could not take their eyes off of.

Celine McLeish and Adrian Lowe performing “Marley’s Mix” at TISA Cultural Outreach 2018. Photo by Nick Taylor.

Act I also featured “Marley’s Mix,” a fusion of Bob Marley and R&B songs sung by Celine McLeish with Adrian Lowe on the grand piano; as well as “Western Masala,” a particularly entertaining dance battle between traditional and new-wave Bollywood.

Spoken word artist Samantha Banton performed a moving piece called “Memoir To My Children” which was described as “a poem narrative to the next generation of coloured children.”

Stefani Onaiwu lent her powerful voice to Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” and absolutely blew the crowd away.

After the intermission, The Story of Us continued to exceed all expectations. Act II included “Robot Wine” — a fusion of dancehall, soca, hip-hop, reggaeton, and afrobeats that featured an upbeat, mesmerizing rhythm.

“Bongo Once Again” at TISA Cultural Outreach 2018. Photo by Nick Taylor.

Cindy Gao performed an awe inspiring contemporary dance called “Circles” before Triple A Caliente took the stage to wow the crowd with the international hip-hop, representing the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Afro Kartel – described as “African dancing with a spice of the Caribbean” – then took the stage to perform a very intense routine.

Other particularly noteworthy acts from the second half of the show included “Dastaan E Punjab,” a vibrant display of Punjab culture originating in India and Pakistan; as well as “INTL,” a very talented dance representing K-pop culture.

The final act of the night – Nau Deviyaan – was a Bollywood fusion piece that ended the show on a positive note.

TISA President Stefany Cen Feng and Vice President Chris Giordano at TISA Cultural Outreach 2018. Photo by Nick Taylor.

Ashish and Jorge came back out to thank the crowd for their attendance, reminding us to engage with new cultures and introducing TISA Vice President Chris Giordano and President Stefany Cen Fung. They thanked all 141 of the performers as well as the volunteers and Cultural Outreach committee for their tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to the event. TISA also thanked their sponsors: Popeye’s, Silk Roots, and Silver Bean Cafe, all of the Colleges affiliated with Trent University, and the TCSA. After the show, an afterparty followed at the Venue.

All in all, Cultural Outreach 2018 was a huge success, nearly selling out Showplace Performance Centre and creating quite a spectacle of talent, culture and entertainment.

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Nick Taylor is a second year International Development and Philosophy Student who is passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, the environment, social justice and poetry.