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ISSUE 121 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/18/2008

Veselica Spring Concert delights: Dancers take journey around the world on stage

By Sagirah Shahid
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 18, 2008

For those of us who are continuously craving cultural versatility in the arts on campus, we finally had our hankerings satisfied last Friday and Sunday through dance. The Veselica Spring Concert provided the St. Olaf community an opportunity to bounce around from country to country without ever having to leave their seats. The studio was jam-packed with audience members eager to take part of this wonderful cultural experience. I had to sit on the stairs because they were all out of seats!

With dances from Romania, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and the Czech Republic -- just to name a few -- the annual Veselica Spring concert moved audiences with its culturally distinct and beautiful dances. The concert consisted of solo and group dance performances from St. Olaf students and has been an annual event on campus for many years.

Veselica, which translates as "celebration" in Serbo-Croatian, was founded in 1989 by dance professor Anne von Bibra. Veselica (pronounced veh-SELL-eetsah) is an international dance ensemble on campus that strives to spread an awareness of dance forms from around the globe.

Although the fancy footwork of the Scottish sword dance and the flirty hip shaking of the Indian dances were enough to entertain audiences, the exquisite costumes that the performers wore to match their dances added that additional "wow" factor.

The beaded hair of the Mongolian dancers, the swirling skirts of the romantic Costa Rican performance and exotic scarves in the Indian dances alone were enough to leave me, after every performance, excited enough to wonder what was next on the clothing agenda.

Although the vibrant costumes were pleasantly intoxicating, the dances themselves won over audiences with their uniqueness. Even though the dances were traditional cultural dances and performances from around the world, the Veselica Spring Concert managed to remain original. "I grew up listening to Indian music and watching Indian dances, but I really enjoyed the way they preformed the Indian dances at this concert because they added their own twist to it," Fatima Omar '11 said.

It amazed me how beautifully these performers told the stories of these distinctly different countries. Sure, the funky Scottish dance arose a spontaneous clapping to the beat from the audience and even with the elegant wrist and arm action displayed in the Uzbekistan dance, made these dance performances appear nearly flawless.

Dance major Nicolett Mase '11, who preformed in many of the dances in the Veslica Concert, shared her perspective on the dances before preparing for her next performance: "Some of the dances required a lot of strength and some of them were really fast paced" Mase said. She went on to describe how dancers in this concert had to be versatile enough to successfully execute these dances and still "be respectful to the cultures" the dances represented. Fellow performer Martin Shedd '11, who describes himself as a "history culture geek," explained that the versatility, along with the flexibility of the concert, some of the reasons why he decided to be a part of the concert. "I was in a dance company in high school, but I am not able to be a dance major." Veslica Spring Concert provided Shedd with an opportunity to do something he enjoyed despite the fact that he is not dance major.

All of the dances of the Veslica Spring Concert were beautifully choreographed, interpreting the different cultural dances quite well. The performers managed to tell the audience stories from across the world with their bodies.

Regardless of whether or not if it was because of the hypnotic way they sashayed their hips in India, or if it was because of the amazing foot work they showed us from Scotland, Veselica manto take the audience somewhere beyond the edge of their seats -- or in my case, the stairs.

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