Satisfying in its almost vaudevillian variety and personally engaging in its content, the 12th Annual ASUC Perspectives Showcase was a particularly uplifting theater experience. From the moment I approached Zellerbach Theater, weaving through a throng of smilingly chatty students, it was clear that Perspectives was a special kind of performance. As the lights in the house began to fade, everyone quieted down and sat, anticipating, eyes begging the stage.
Cal Raijin Taiko and EGO opened the show with a riveting performance of traditional drumming that roused impressed exclamations throughout the audience. The show then took a lighter turn with a playful improv act and changed pace again with the entrance of the beautiful Fei Tian dancers, who performed with remarkable grace. When the Cal Wushu team came jogging onstage, the contrast was exhilarating. They expressed their excitement at the flips and emphatic stomps of the Wushu practice, shaking their fists with exuberant calls of “Hell yessss!” The girls got their turn to go crazy too as the smooth moves of KPG sent many into shameless outbursts of, “They’re so cute!”
Special guests Poetry for the People mellowed out the atmosphere as the audience nodded emphatically through the performances and snapped at the lines that resonated most. The theater breathed for a fleeting moment in reflective quiet after the poetry reading but was quickly revived by Middle Eastern Dance and Dil Se with a charming opening song. The groups coordinated seamlessly, meshing stunning Indian costumes and music with the sparkling, feisty aesthetic of Middle Eastern Dance.
Bringing the show back from its Eastern focus was Ballet Company at Berkeley, which made its high-brow art relatable by dancing to contemporary music. Ambience spiced it up with electronic music that, with an incendiary, synth-voiced statement of, “And now you’re going to die,” dropped the bass and re-energized the room with a stimulating light show.
Just as the energy seemed to peak, sensuous music melted on as two white ribbons fluttered down, and Jeff Li took the stage. His aerial routine was exhilarating, sexy, artistic and the highest note on which to close Act One. With the ballet dancers and light-show artists circulating underneath him, the stage lights dimmed.
And that was only Act One. After a funny theater piece opening Act Two came Kol Hadov and the Israeli Dance DeCal, whose performance left many audience members pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the repertoire and talent of the group. CalSLAM and Bare Troupe collaborated beautifully as well and were followed by the gorgeous women of Sorayya. Reflejos and Mango Raasi closed the show with flourishes of colorful stripes and sequined outfits and were a high note on which to end.
As a beaming crowd cheered another successful Perspectives Showcase at curtain call, everything came together: Perspectives is great because it is an environment in which members of the Cal community can come to understand experientially why these performers take pride in their heritage and passions. (How could you not be a total fan of the intense Wushu, exciting Indian dance and song or beautiful Middle Eastern dances after seeing such impressive and engaging performances?) Going to Perspectives, one really does get a taste of “A Day in the Life” of other people on this campus — where they come from, what makes them smile to themselves in class, what they’re running to on weekday evenings and what they have to contribute to our magnificent community.