CMU Fusion unites performances, performers

Last Sunday night, Rangos Hall was home to the culmination of a new endeavor among on-campus groups and activities. Ten groups spent over four months planning and practicing — under the guidance of student organization CMU Fusion — and turned out a live performance that night, a show that united multiple genres for one-and-a-half seamless hours of music and dancing.

The brainchild of junior design student Neha Thatte and junior business administration major Tehana Weeks, CMU Fusion was created to bring together a number of culturally diverse groups on campus for one event. “Fusion [is] an organization that provides opportunities for other organizations to collaborate and perform together. It’s an umbrella organization for other groups on campus,” Thatte said. “We wanted to act as a body that connected people and made it easy to connect.”

Thatte and Weeks began planning the logistics of Fusion at the end of the spring 2006 semester. Their work continued throughout the summer, when they wrote the group's constitution. This year’s event was a series of performances, both music and dance, by groups that began preparing for Sunday night’s show in January, when Fusion helped organize and connect the groups with each other. It wasn’t until after spring break that practices actually took place, and the fusing was not immediate. “The whole show pretty much gelled together the week before the show,” Thatte said. “It was very choppy and unfused for a long time.”

Part of what made Sunday’s show unique was that it allowed no space between each act, essentially creating a real-life mash-up of performances. With collaboration between the different groups of performers, sets like a cappella group Joyful Noise’s singing transformed into an African dance performance by San Kofa, which flowed into a breakdancing performance by the International Freestylers. While most of the show’s transitions seemed to be a musical technicality, these three did the best job of meshing actual performance by integrating their participants’ presences on stage with the following act’s choreography.

“The transitions that worked the best were the ones that were choreographed and atypical,” Thatte said. For her, San Kofa’s transition into breakdancing was among the smoothest, and alt-rock group Jamais Vu’s transition into Indian dance was among the most unexpected — here, the change in music was particularly dramatic.

Fusion was more than just a visual collaboration, though. Thatte saw her goal come to fruition when the performers themselves started to appreciate the effect of the collaborations. “It started happening during some of the latter rehearsals, when groups were expressing how excited they were to see the fusion and [were] thanking me,” she said. Thatte also said that audience members also congratulated her for doing something truly unique on campus.

Thatte hopes that Fusion will create more connections for such diverse student groups. “For next year, what we’d like … is to make it more social for the organizations, to really help them to get to know the people — to know each other, and the goals of their prospective organizations,” she explained. Ultimately, CMU Fusion would like to run smaller events throughout the year (an Iron Chef competition, for example) to keep up visibility.

“We’re looking for people to join the organization, and we’re definitely looking for feedback about the show to make it better, and if any organizations want to be involved, contact us,” Thatte said. Elections for CMU Fusion will be held close to the end of the school year, so students can become involved in Fusion then as well.

If this show was any indication of CMU Fusion’s future, the organization will certainly maintain a presence on campus. As the organization continues to grow with time, the shows and events can only improve.