The theme for this year’s ASUC Perspectives Showcase was “the people in the headphones,” that is, it was a spotlight on the apathetic Cal student — the one who turns a blind eye to her peers, to Occupy, to the “krumping boy at the BART station,”— in her own little college-student bubble.
That self-imposed alienation is certainly a heady issue to tackle, but through four riveting CalSLAM spoken word poetry performances that punctuated Friday’s show in Zellerbach Hall, the complexities of this issue unfolded. Each performance spotlighted two or three poets accompanied by a solo interpretative dancer, in performances that were darkly thought-provoking in their rhythm, content, and the way each dancer described the words with their bodies.
As evidenced by the CalSLAM and solo dance performances, the show confirmed not only the diverse talents of the Berkeley student body, but also its student groups’ impressively collaborative choreography, musical sets and skits.
New to this year’s show was an engaging community art exhibit that displayed not only pieces by current practice of art majors, but also a compilation of different projects done by local elementary and middle school students. These students contributed over two hundred pieces of art, ranging from crayon drawings to cut-out dolls, all relaying their individual takes on the world.
Particularly endearing were the self-portraits provided by the students of Longfellow Middle School. From a distance, they merely look like simple line drawings of faces, but to see one more closely would reveal that the lines are actually made up of words: lyrics, places, favorite things, etc.
The night’s performances certainly contained a lot of serious take-away messages, but the great thing about Perspectives was that it had a perfect balance of the serious and the purely fun. Student improv groups, Jericho! and BareStage Unscripted, were as hilarious as always in their collaborative skit, “A Complete and Accurate History of Berkeley,” which was neither complete nor accurate but very funny. With its carelessly lackadaisical take on everything from the Free Speech Movement to Occupy.
One of the night’s highlights was the “Phantom of the Opera” dance put together by Chinese dance group, Fei Tian, and Azaad, a co-ed Bollywood dance group. In a performance chock-full of infectious energy, the two dance groups showed the audience exactly what cross-cultural collaboration looks like, communicating so much more through leaps and body rolls than promotional rhetoric and diversity catchphrases.
It all ended in a sweeping grand finale, with a perfectly fitting song choice: “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from the musical “Hairspray,” giving all the different a capella and dance groups a chance to star in one last encore performance that communicated the collaborative spirit of the entire cast.
Hopefully the end of this year’s Perspectives show will not bring the end of this collaborative spirit between the different performance groups that made up the cast. By joining them together in this show, the ASUC gave these distinct groups a chance to work together and learn from each other, a rare but crucial opportunity for a lively but often fractured community like ours.