Let’s get to the point: It was good. This year, the song-and-dance cultural diversity showcase, known as the Rochester Revue was actually good. Enjoyable. Fun. And very rarely was it awkward.

Maybe it was something in the Meliora punch. Or something about the emcee team of alumni Erika Winkler ’06 and Alvin Lomibao ’09 and Student Associaton President and senior Eric Weissmann. They read their scripts well, establishing the proper upbeat tone, as well as their future job prospects providing banter for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It all came together rather well.

The Revue is Meliora Weekend’s student programming pinnacle, where parents, peers and alumni can sit, eat higher-tier SYSCO food and watch as all the Students’ Association performance troupes that were good enough to make the cut perform in a giant tent. While groups are rarely downright bad, past shows gave the impression that the organizations are not always concentrating or well-rehearsed. This year, almost everyone came both prepared and spirited, resulting in a surprisingly entertaining program.

At times, the program comes off less as a form of entertainment and more as an exercise in coordination. There are dozens of people in a tightly enclosed space, as well as audio equipment, parents, buffets, the cash bar, non-sober alumni, tables, parents, performers, parents, the hosts and Event Support. The show develops a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” feel that has the potential for problems there are false starts and occasionally unsettling silences. This year, the prime example (self-imposed though it was) happened to be Sihir Bellydancing Ensemble. While all groups were told to have a backup CD, Sihir didn’t bring one. Their original copy failed, forcing Weissmann and Lomibao to stall for time (they were funny off script) until the powers-that-be determined Sihir would be unable to perform.

Many of the groups that did perform went with their respective trademark acts, including The Yellowjackets doing ‘Up the Ladder to the Roof,” the Filipino-American Students’ Association performing their stick dance and UR Bhangra and ROC the Raas doing that thing where they’re just really great. The Chinese Students’ Association, as expected, did a fan dance. If the point of cultural groups is to learn about other cultures, then I have yet to learn anything about the Chinese from the Revue other than that they think fans are just real swell.

Strong Jugglers utilized their best instrument comedy with a culinary lesson involving sharp objects and a wonderfully cooperative audience member.
Indulgence ‘indulged” the audience (that was one of Weissmann’s jokes) with a powerful hip-hop dance. The Stingers, UR’s trombone ensemble, put a great oomph into Smashmouth’s ‘All Star” that made me actually like a song which should have been legally banned from public performance back in 1999 (the year it came out). Other performers, such as the Korean Poongmul Group, understood like Tchaikovsky did so long ago that anything involving percussion is a real hit.

The acts don’t merit complete praise. Choreography means little if improperly executed, and dance groups would have benefited from improved synchronization, though generally to small degrees. Some could have been a little more energetic (Afro-Expressions) or had cleaner motions (Japan Matsuri). Off Broadway On Campus had trouble projecting at the beginning of their song. The singing itself could have been stronger, too.

Still, the show’s dramatic finale by UR Celtic, the finest leg-flailing dance troupe this side of the Atlantic, rounded out the Revue in style with a powerful, stirring finish to a great program. Whether the decision to buck tradition and put them last over Bhangra was due to the auditions or to an effort to freshen up the Revue, it was a good idea; the organizers have established a mystery as to who will get the top spot each year. Changing the game to generate suspense? Very clever, Revue. I look forward to finding out the answer in 2010.

Brenneman is a
Take Five Scholar

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