Students seize limelight

This past Friday night, Carnegie Mellon students displayed a wide array of individual and group talent in the Cèilidh Student Showcase. The showcase featured students from every college at Carnegie Mellon and a diversity of performances in dance, song, and creative writing.

The showcase mainly drew an audience of parents; they sat at round tables in Rangos Hall decorated with floral arrangements and cookie platters, giving the event a more formal setting. The interesting choice of background music projected a techno-like vibe that seemed a bit out of place, given the surroundings.

Directed by master of ceremonies and sophomore drama student Jordan Phillips, the program began with an a cappella collaboration with members from different a cappella groups on campus performing Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” with an enthusiastic yet professional attitude.

Other than the a cappella performance, the program placed a heavy emphasis on dance, with dance troupes making up five of the showcase’s six group performances. Far from being repetitive, each of these dance performances offered a different perspective and made a unique contribution to the showcase. The groups were culturally diverse — from South Asian to Afro-Brazilian to co-ed fusion — and brought a variety of cultural voices to the occasion. Tanah, a South Asian dance troupe, and Tufaan—The Storm, a co-ed fusion dance team, danced with energy and enthusiasm; members of the Capoeira Club performed a captivating cross between martial arts and dance. The members of Bhangra gave their typically stunning and well-rehearsed performance, while students from Dancers’ Symposium ended the program with a vibrant and mesmerizing modern dance piece.

Scattered between the group performances were individual pieces that balanced out the program nicely. Sophomore drama student Alesia Etinoff offered a refreshingly blunt perspective on the relationship between clothes and identity in her piece, “Clothes Do Not Define Me.” Phillips left the podium and joined sophomore drama student Tsilala Graham-Haynes in silently acting out the piece as it was read, giving the words an important and well-choreographed visual dimension. Etinoff’s frank and unflinching tone left a striking impact on her audience as she said bluntly, “Clothes get more compliments than we do.”

Individual performances continued to impress throughout the program. On violin, junior music major Christine Hedden’s Irish fiddle tunes were a beautiful and unexpected salute to the cèilidh tradition. By alluding to her experiences growing up with these tunes, Hedden also gave the performance a personal touch. Steven Robertson, a first-year drama student on voice and guitar, and Peter Marchetti, a sophomore math major on piano, both graced the stage with their instrumental performances. Senior drama student Stefan Dezil gave a passionate vocal performance of “A Change is Gonna Come” from Uptown Boys, pairing a great voice with contagious energy.

On Chinese yo-yo, first-year H&SS student Mallory Wang showed obvious grace and skill — an impression that was heightened by her choice of epic background music.

Perhaps the most impressive facet of the showcase was the fact that the vast majority of the student performers had majors outside of music or dance. These students hailed from every college in the university: Engineering students sang a cappella, while science and humanities students performed in dance. In this way, the student showcase lived up to its name, demonstrating the raw talent of Carnegie Mellon students regardless of their studies.

The showcase succeeded in bringing a diverse taste of student life to the limelight. Not only did the program draw from a variety of cultural backgrounds, but it also created a nice balance between individual and group performances. Overall, it stayed true to Cèilidh Weekend’s label as an international festival and showed off what the event would have to offer over the next two days.