At first glance, a motley and cacophonous company filled the Multi Purpose Room—the giggles, table-talk and vocalized social mannerisms grew into a flat hum, here and there a louder-than-usual laugh or longer-than-usual relative silence.
A strange but succulent scent filled the room—the wafting of about a dozen different ethnic foods. At 6 p.m., the designated commencement time for the event, a line contoured the walls of the room—kids waiting, antsy for eggrolls, and adults excited for baklava. .
Then, Maria Feliciano, an MUPD officer who has been a part of the event for years, welcomed everyone to the Cultural Showcase, an event organized around the celebration of the cultural community of Millersville.
Feliciano lovingly related the event to “the diversity of leaves,” the leaves being the respective demographics of the University.
Family and friends of those participating, and any students who happened to stop in, filled a few round tables and a dozen chairs Thursday night, while the rest happily stood in small groups.
Food scarfed down, there were many full stomachs and just as many expectant eyes. Feliciano introduced Expressions, a Millersville dance team. The team of twelve dancers spread out across the stage and performed something of an interpretive dance. They devoted their performance to New York.
MU Dance Team was the succeeding act, 15 dancers performed an intricate jazz dance, electrified limbs seeming to fly across the stage, leaping here, pouncing there. Some technical difficulties gave the event a natural break, at the end of which came the fashion segment. First to the stage was a young woman in a sari, a traditional Indian dress for women.
Two young men followed with Togas, and a petite and shy Vietnamese woman donned an 18th century Vietnamese dress. Last was an elegant Japanese dress.
Feliciano took to the lectern again and announced the intermission. Children ran out into the open area before the stage, playing hide-and-go-seek with each other, parents occasionally glancing over to watch and always smiling.
Some took the intermission as an excuse to munch on more free food, others to discuss the preceding performances. Just as the laughing and rambling again became a hum, Feliciano told the lively crowd there was more yet to come.
Next up was Mai Mahdally, senior. A young man sat down on a chair in the middle of the stage. Then the music began and a beautiful young woman accentuated her curves and sensuality with a modern belly dance, luring and teasing.
“Since I was a little kid, I have been dancing,” said Mahdally with a smile. She said she loved the audience’s receptivity to the style of dancing.
A group of women came out onto the stage after Mahdally, implored the audience to join in, and joyfully skipped and jumped a Gypsy dance, wedding dance and a Turkish dance.
The evening ended with Mahdally. This time, she was in a sparkly red two-piece suit and floated around the audience, dancing a traditional Indian dance, meant, as she explained it, to be entertainment for males.
One of her family members got up and jokingly tossed dollar bills over her as she walked by. The audience audibly laughed.
Students came to the event, most of them, for the experience, and not for extra credit. Shaina Colbzo, sophomore, said she found out about the showcase on the University website, in the Cultural Events section, and came because she thought it would be interesting.
“I think it was the food [I liked the most],” said Colbzo. “I really liked the empanadillas.”