MIO Cultural Show brings politics to stage


Despite the fact that it took place at 10 P.M. on a Friday night, The Macalester International Organization’s Cultural Show on Nov. 18 provided one of those rare instances in which one could be sure that there was literally nothing more entertaining going on within a five-mile radius. The show, combining 17 cultural performances and a scripted storyline, showcased the diverse talents of the members of our campus’s largest student group, and also proved anyone wrong who complains that Macalester’s international students don’t make themselves enough of a presence on campus. The inherent lameness of a traditional talent show was not an issue, as students and host families crowded the Campus Center to witness one of the MIO’s largest yearly events.

“It was the best show to grace the MGO stage this year,” audience member Hadley Pope ’09 said. “It was better than Haley Bonar and Brother Ali combined. And much more cultural.”

The format of the show underwent changes this year, explained MIO Co-chair Hector Pascual Alvarez ’08, in that this year’s production was the first ever to use a script.

“We tried to do something different this year instead of just disconnected performances,” he said, noting that the script he wrote tried to correlate to the international theme of the show.

The show wove its music and dance performances into the story of two lovers, played by Adelaide Pagano ’09 and Federico Segura ’09, who must travel the world to see each other and eventually come together to realize that they’ve both been accepted at Macalester. Aside from relating such a moving story, the script helped to vocalize some of the issues faced by international students, such as visa policies, globalization, and the potential death of need-blind admission.

Most important, however, were the music and dance performances, which included a traditional Bolivian dance, an African warrior dance, a Bengali song and an Israeli folk dance.

“All of the actual acts were different students coming to us and asking to participate,” said Emma Sheppard ’09, who student-directed the show with Pascual Alvarez. “We had a lot of student input and a lot of people were excited to perform.” Simin Golestani ’09, who performed a solo on the Persian drums, was awed by the sheer diversity of ability in her fellow performers. “I was really impressed with the huge amount of talent that everyone brought to the show,” she said. Golestani, who has been playing the Persian drums since she took lessons for four months in Tehran, chose her instrument in part because of its reflection of her native Iranian culture.

“People mostly learn piano, guitar, and violin. It’s an extra-traditional [instrument],” she said. “They’ll have concerts where they have 40 people playing at the same time.”

Other performers were eager to share the traditions that they’ve left behind to come to Macalester. “[The Lambada] is a dance that I know; it’s something that I was brought up with,” Carolina Mora ’09, an international student from Costa Rica, said of the Brazilian dance she performed. “This show is a way to really show people the diversity of the school.”

Many of the performers were not international, but domestic students who chose to participate as more of a learning experience.

“One of the great parts of the show was that we were getting a lot of people to perform, especially people who performed in dances and acts not from their country of origin,” Sheppard said. Diversity, internationalism, coming together under one roof to dance and sing; as Pagano, the show’s lead actress, put it: “Kofi would have been proud.