By MOLLY AVERY
UMW’s first ever international ball was held last Friday April 5 in the HCC Digital Auditorium. The event was a collaborative effort put together by the Modern Languages and Literature Department, Center for International Education, Arab Culture Club, German Club and Latino Student Association. Students were encouraged to attend the dance in semi-formal or traditional dress.
“The first international ball actually took place last year, organized by the German Club; it was called the Gold and Glitz Gala and was organized around a dinner,” said German professor Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich, one of the professors who made the event possible. “It was very small last year, though, and this year was the first year with a DJ and actual dancing.”
The idea to turn that German dinner into a dance for all cultures came from the thinking of both professors and students alike. Culture is taught within the language classes, but can only really be experienced through cooking hours and movie screenings. By putting on the dance, students could connect with the cultures in a different way.
“The use of music and traditional dance provides a light-hearted and fun way to interact with one another language and culture,” said senior Mackenzie Poust, a religious studies major, and president of the Arab Culture Club. “Language, music, dance and other elements are what create the cultural foundations of a group of people, and we wanted to share that with UMW and emphasize that diversity.”
The majority of the music throughout the dance came from different cultures around the world. Students were exposed new music this way, while also still hearing familiar hits such as “Despacito” and “Gasolina.” As diverse as the music was, classic American dance songs such as “The Cupid Shuffle” and “Cotton Eye Joe” were still played.
Dances from various cultures were also taught at the ball. Traditional dances taught at the ball were African, Arab, Spanish and Chinese. “I really wanted to learn some cultural dances, even belly dancing,” said senior music and education major Benjamin Jones.
Jones started multiple dance circles throughout the dance with his friends. People were encouraged to run into the middle and show off their best moves. Belly dancing, the salsa and the worm were all a part of the circle at one point or another. “I think it makes things more interesting, and it makes the whole dance more hype too. I can’t dance at all, but I really enjoyed going into the circle being goofy,” said Jones.
“We had actually planned to have karaoke in all of the languages just listed,” said Hansen-Glucklich, “but everyone was having so much fun dancing, we decided to skip the karaoke.”
Light refreshments were offered in the form of cake, candy and various beverages. At the end of the night everyone was given a small goody bag. A glittering photo booth was set up against the wall, where students could take pictures with their friends using various props.
Hansen-Glucklich was pleased with the turnout. “We hoped the ball would be successful, but we were surprised by how many students came, especially considering the conflict with spring formal and the weather.”
The international ball took place on the same night as UMW’s famous spring formal. Coordinators of the event were worried about the overlap of the two dances, fearing that not as many may attend since they were happening at the same time.
“We did not intentionally schedule it to be the same night,” said Poust. “We learned back in February about the overlap, but there was no way for us to move our event date because of location and time availability on campus.”
Despite the scheduling conflict, the dance was still a huge success, totalling somewhere around 100 students in attendance. “It was really fun to go to a giant party with people who share the same interest as me,” said sophomore Grace Brecht, a German and French double major.
Hansen-Glucklich confirmed that there are plans to have the ball again next year. Although she will be graduating, Poust has high hopes for the future of the dance. “I believe that word will circulate through campus and encourage more students to be on the lookout for the promotion of the event next year,” she said.