International Cultural Night 2020 took place on March 4th, indicating the end of the International Cultural Week. The event was a beautiful production led by the International Students Bureau (ISB), the International Student Officer and UNM students. This annual celebration commemorates the diversity and variety of cultures in Nottingham.
It was probably one of the most anticipated events of this year. ICN was one night filled with extravagant performances and spectacles from representatives of different countries, not just from our university, but from our fellow friends at the Asia Pacific University and First City University. It was a packed evening, with guests from Taylors and Monash University joining us at the Great Hall.
Shades of crimson red and golden yellow lined up the way to the Great Hall and filled its inside. The fairy lights that hung up against the walls gave the atmosphere a cozy and serene vibe. Smoke machines and lights crowded the stage and illuminated the hall. The shimmering lights flickered across the audience’s faces and highlighted their dazzling traditional costumes.
The gates opened at 6:15, and the event began shortly after. The emcee’s, Dahlia and Hanson, welcomed the crowd warmly and enthusiastically. Their humor and opening speech were effortlessly flawless.
The event opened with Indonesia. There were four traditional dances each representing four different regions in the country. Their colorful costumes, graceful and swift movements left the audience in awe at their culture. One of their dances was called the Saman dance. The uniqueness of this dance arises from the fact that there is no music; instead, the dancers sing rhythmically.
India had the most dances amongst the participant countries. They provided the audience with a mix of Bollywood, classical, folk, and hip-hop dances. The choreography blended elements from different dances and regions to bring about a performance full of diversity. Their flowy and sparkly skirts brightened the stage. The members energetic and vibrant spirits excited the crowd.
Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya
Taking a different approach, the southern African countries began their performance with a spoken word poem. Their voices and words were overflowing with vitality and liberty. Moreover, their dance moves were captivating, capturing the attention of the audience and making it difficult to keep their eyes off of them.
Egypt performed three dances, each dance portraying a different era in Egypt. The first dance was a simplistic Pharaohs dance. The second dance depicted the upper Egypt region. The dancer’s fluid movements caused the crowd to erupt in cheers. In the third dance, the performers danced to a song that was released two months prior to the event, indicating the everchanging culture of the Egyptian dances.
A girl enters wearing a fancy wedding like dress and sits gracefully on the floor of the stage. A man follows through, wooing her with love songs. An electric guitar plays in the background. This performance shows the tradition of wedding preparations in Pakistan. Pakistan didn’t stop at that; it gave the audience four more performers. It was a mix of traditional and modern dances. Their lively energy and music spread through the crowd.
Stylish turbans, mellow tunes and soft swaying movements. The Sudanese dances relaxed and loosened up the crowd. The sight of the dancers in their traditional clothes was unforgettable.
2nd half of the event
The second half of the event took a different method of presenting the countries as opposed to the first half. The names of the countries weren’t said; instead, a video was shown that revealed the names of the country at the end of it.
Malaysia had a minimalist and brief performance of an emotional song. The soothing voice of the singer and the gentle melodies dispersed a feeling of bliss and comfort amongst the audience.
A short speech was given about Bangladesh’s mother tongue and their fight for their language. They played a traditional soft song that symbolized their sincere emotions. Four fiery and passionate dances were followed by that song. The girls danced freely and smoothly with their delicate flower crowns. The boys followed through with a similar burning energy and excitement.
The first dance painted the traditions of the Maldives culture in the audience’s eyes. The dance consisted of girls carrying metal water pots in their head as musical instruments. The vivacity of the performers exhilarated the audience and had them moving in their seats. The ending performance represented a unity of colors and costumes.
Exquisite and lovely floral skirts twirled round and round on the stage. Their rhythmic movement to the tunes of the music was hypnotizing and enchanting. The hall was brimming with Joyful and vibrant energy.
A powerful and strong energetic vibe was given off from the Sri Lanka’s performers and dancers. Sri Lanka had three dances that introduced three different regions in Sri Lanka. They ended their performance with a sentimental song to honor the deaths of the martyrs in the recent terrorist attack. The entire crowd stood up to pay their respects for the deceased as the song played.
A beachy and tropical vibe circled the hall as the performers came up on stage. Their synchronized movements and wholesome energy sent out a good vibe to the crowd. Watching their performance felt like sitting on the beach and sipping coconut juice.
A splash of exotic colors, and bewildering fabrics freckeled the stage. Couples from various countries showcased their ravishing costumes and adorable greetings on stage. Midway through the fashion show there was a power outage and the stage was barely clear. The audience became the heroes of the night with their phone flashlights. This action was the embodiment for the aim of the culture night as a whole; groups of different people coming together to support and lift one another.
The awards were given out by the respectful judges, Mohd Shazereen Kamarudin, Nabila Shariff Al-Baiti and Dr. Sergio Camacho.
First runner up: Indonesia
Second runner up: Seychelles
After the winners were announced, there were a few combined performances from representatives from each country to a few songs like High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco or Chammak Challo by Hamisha Iyer. The night ended with a speech from our current International Officer, Utkarsh Gupta. Needless to say, ICN 2020 was a massive success and everyone left the Great Hall feeling pumped after a great night. Nonetheless, the night would not have gone so smoothly as it had if it weren’t for the crew that helped piece the show together. Thank you to everyone who organised this spectacular event, to the performers who invested incredulous amounts of time and effort to perfect their dances and to the everyone who went to ICN to support their countries and their friends.
Can ICN 2021 top this? I guess we’ll find out.
Written by Sara Mostafa and Nethmi Dimbulana
Photographed by Mohammed Al-Ammari