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Rangeela at Calvin: February 23-24
February 13 , 2007

Rangeela, the yearly variety show from the international student body at Calvin College will unfold on the Fine Arts Center stage at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, February 23-24.

Rangeela dancersTickets cost $8 for the general public and $5 for students. The dress rehearsal, on Thursday, February 22, is also open to the public, with admission paid at the door.

Now in its 12th year, Rangeela (Hindi for “colorful”) weaves together songs, dances and skits from the many non-American cultures represented at Calvin. While last year’s show, “Fusion,” focused on the intersection of cultures, the 2007 edition, “Revel and Rhythm,” is a return to tradition.

“All of life, no matter where you’re from, has a rhythm to it,” said junior Amos Garcia, this year’s Rangeela director. “Hopefully, through this show, through the acts this year, we can get a glimpse of those different rhythms.”

While Calvin College annually sends numerous students abroad for study, it also is becoming a place where many students come from other countries for a four-year, liberal arts degree. In the latest Open Doors report Calvin is rated ninth in the country among baccalaureate institutions for number of international students on campus. In 2004-2005 Calvin had 298 international students.

“Revel and Rhythm” mingles acts from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Garcia is particularly excited about the “Thousand-Hand Buddha,” an Indonesian version of a dance traditional to many Asian cultures. “This is a very unique act,” he said. “We’ve had it before, but not in recent history. If done very well, it can be really chilling.”

Another traditional offering is the Vietnamese hat dance. “It’s supposed to depict these ladies working in a field, and they see a handsome man, so they’re just trying to watch him discreetly,” Garcia explained.

Some acts, though traditional, take unexpected directions.

One example is this year’s Korean act, which is based on the martial art Tae Kwon Do. It begins with a simple demonstration of moves and transforms into a dance. “That’s called Tae Kwon Mu,” Garcia explained. “That act is extremely creative, and it has lots of energy to it.”

Also, a skit depicting stereotypes from Chinese culture might also have resonance with American baby boomers, Garcia said: “It kind of plays to the goal of every Chinese parent to get their son or daughter into the best school possible,” he said. “Another part of the skit deals with intercultural relationships. It’s kind of a clash of cultures.”

Several acts have combined elements: The African-American act, a mélange of song, dance and drama, pays tribute to friendship. The offering from Europe combines jazz, Latin and ballroom dance styles. And one act from the Philippines combines a men’s coconut dance and a women’s grass skirt dance. “The third part of the act is done combined,” Garcia said, “and I’m biased since I’m from the Philippines. I like it. That one overall has high energy. It’s really fun to watch.”

“Revel and Rhythm” also features a rock act from the Philippines, a Celtic instrumental piece, and medleys from African Acapella and drum group Sankofa.

“They really exceeded my expectations this year, in terms of the quality of the acts,” said Garcia, who put together an audition committee this year to help him with the selection. “I trust this international group to come up with something great every year.”

He’s looking forward to another Rangeela tradition, the flurry of backstage activity that precedes the show. “My job from here on, aside from directing the show is to advertise and to coordinate the opening and closing acts as well as the overall flow and structure of the show,” he said “It’s the busiest time.”

It’s all worth it, Garcia claims. Of Rangeela’s many traditions one stands out: Every year both performances sell out. And as a veteran performer in the show, Garcia knows the benefit that comes from hard work: “When you’re on stage doing the show, all the prep, the late nights because you had to do homework after practice-it all doesn’t matter. It all pays off.”

~written by communications and marketing staff writer Myrna Anderson