The Bard International Student Organization (ISO) Cultural Show is definitely one of the largest student-run events on campus every year. It’s the thing that pushes us through the mid-semester slump right before Thanksgiving. There are always the returning acts, the Chronik Vibez Step Team and Afropulse, as well as smaller acts from people just looking to share a piece of their lives, their histories.
Though not Middle Eastern, this is the second year I’ve been a part of the cultural show as a member of the Dabkeh group. Dabkeh is a modern Arab folk dance that includes aspects of circle dance, line dance, and stomp and is performed as a social dance at weddings and celebrations.
Last year there was a Dabkeh class, so we all got to perform what we’d been learning. This year, I performed only with the wonderful Joy Al-Nemri, who has cultural and ethnic roots in the dance.
Even so, I’m a midwesterner with a western European lineage. I have little to offer a cultural show, and even less to offer to a cultural show put on by the International Student Organization; I just like to dance. It’s a wonderful experience, though. The members of the ISO are kind and efficient—one of the hosts asked me a few times how to pronounce my name so he wouldn’t get it wrong on stage—and people I’d never met before were shaking my hand and hugging me after the performance to let me know I’d done well. The atmosphere was incredibly supportive, empowering, and the breath of fresh air we all needed on the tail end of this tense week. They were even handing out safety pins backstage.
Certain things may seem bleak right now, but these are the types of things we need to hold onto, the types of communities worth forming. If there’s anyway to get involved in these sorts of things, trust me, it’s worth it. If there’s not, then start working on them.