By SUSANNAH TOMBES
The annual Multicultural Fair, was held on Saturday, April 1 where campus was filled with different vendors that lined the edge of Campus Walk. Some caught people’s attention with carnival foods, while others were drawn to the bright colors and sounds.
The University of Mary Washington prides itself in promoting diversity on campus and the Multicultural Fair represents this with so many diverse forms of art, food and even dance.
Part of what makes the fair so special is the many different dances that are performed. Freshman Kaitlin Viloria is a member of several different dance groups at UMW and says she enjoys what the Multicultural Fair does to promote her dances. “The multicultural fair, without a doubt, helps showcase and spread awareness of uncommon dances such as bhangra and belly dancing.”
The other main focus of the fair is to expose people to new and interesting cultures.
“I also think that, when others see groups of people from different backgrounds coming together and having fun dancing to either bhangra, belly dancing or K-Pop, it shows unity in diversity,” Viloria said. “It opens people’s minds to think that what is unfamiliar can be the most marvelous thing you could ever experience.”
Wearing brightly colored outfits or themed clothing that captivated the audience, the members of each of the different dance clubs at Mary Washington shared their love of culture and dance. Junior Daksha Kateri has been performing in the fair since her freshman year, and shared that even though she enjoys doing solos, performing in a group is her favorite part because it “brings more taste, story and culture to [the dance].”
Kateri also talked about the preparation that she takes before each performance. “Each piece requires an appreciation of cultures, passion for dance and a smile,” Kateri said.
However, first time Multicultural Fair performer, Viloria, felt overwhelmed throughout the process of preparation. “It was hectic, crazy and stressful, but we pulled through, had fun and did well… I would worry about forgetting a move and making mistakes, but when I threw away all my worries and let my body do the talking, in the end, I felt a rush of euphoria.”
Kateri and Viloria have both been performing from the time they were young, so the stage is not foreign to them. Kateri says that she danced through middle school, high school and even family weddings. She has been doing many different styles of dance including Indian classical, Bhangra and Indian Folk dances. When she came to college, she was able to explore even more styles of dance and eventually became members of several different groups like UMW Eagle Bhangra and the Alter Egos Step Team. While Kateri has been involved with styles of dances that are uncommon to many, she has expanded her repertoire to more familiar forms such as ballet, jazz and modern dance.
The familiarity of dance that Kateri has makes it easy for her to pick up on the talent others have, too. Coincidentally enough, Kateri was the first to see potential in Viloria. Up until she arrived at college, her love of dance had not yet fully developed. Kateri told Viloria about the different dance groups on campus and encouraged her to look into them. Not long after classes began, Viloria joined Eagle Bhangra and the K-Pop dance groups.
Similar to Kateri, Viloria is always looking to learn more dances and continues to improve on what she already knows well.
The Multicultural Fair has played an important role in both the lives of Daksha and Kaitlin. Both agree that the fair showcases, share with campus and the outside community what Mary Washington strives to exemplify.
“Everyone looks forward to this event because it converges all the diverse cultures and allows every student from any cultural background to find something to connect with whether it’s their own culture or an entirely different one,” Kateri shared.
She explained how the performances are enlightening for all who are a part of them, viewer and performer alike. “It makes you realize how important cultures are that bind us together whether it is through dance, food or any form of art.”
“The Multicultural Fair showcases what UMW strives for… diversity and inclusion,” Viloria said. “By bringing in all kinds of performances from different origins, everyone who comes to the fair can have a little taste of the world outside the United States.”