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Variety Show: Nightingales, Traditions, and WHOA Hip-Hop Dance

November 19, 2009 at 10:57 am
By Claire Weinberg '12

On Saturday night, the Nightingales took the stage dressed in everything from bubble wrap to plastic bags to a black spandex catsuit with a fur collar. They sang their first song, TLC's "Unpretty", without any explanation of their bizarre garb, then eventually got around to explaining that in honor of their guests for the night, the Macalester Traditions, an all-male a cappella group from Macalester College, they were dressed as Carleton traditions. These included Friday Flowers, Toff (the black catsuit), Heaven and Hell, the albino squirrel, and one girl who appeared to be dressed normally until she came up front and the rest of the Gales sang the opening notes of Like a Prayer.

The evening continued essentially in this vein – silly, irreverent and fun. The Gales sang a few really pretty songs, such as The Weepies' "Gotta Have You", but mostly concentrated on the funny and lively ("Sexual Healing" provoked quite a few whoops from the audience). They finished with a rousing rendition of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe".

Then came a moment that took everyone completely off guard, as the Traditions, resplendent in nearly-matching plaid blazers, marched out on stage and started in on – the Pokemon theme song? Yup, that's what it was. It took the audience a minute for it to sink in, then they didn't stop laughing and cheering throughout the whole song. Somehow the Traditions managed to keep up this energy for the rest of their performance – for their next song they brought a random girl up on stage from the audience and serenaded her with a song about how they wanted to be her love slaves, and a few songs later an unusually high-voiced blond Tradition in skinny jeans belted his way through Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone", including the high notes toward the end. However, they also had some moments of genuine sweetness: for example, the soft-voiced rendition of "Just My Imagination" by a tall, gangly freshman-looking guy. Someday I would like to see a Knights vs. Traditions a cappella battle; I think the Knights would have some competition.

Then there was a complete shift in mood as the Traditions cleared the stage and made way for WHOA Hip-Hop Dance Company. The mood was set as Mateo Trujillo, preparing to start the performance, had the sound operator play a song and kept encouraging him to turn up the volume until it was practically blasting out the speakers. The medley of dances was extremely high-energy and exuberant; the dancing didn't stop for a minute as groups of dancers slipped on and off the stage. Highlights included an all-female dance to Beyonce's "Diva", and a pair of solos, performed by Elsie Arisa and Rory Collins '10, to "Knock You Down" by Keri Hilson. Arisa's performance was particularly stunning; her body moved too quickly for the audience to even keep track of the individual moves she was doing, and it was moving how clearly taken over she was by the dance.

A clash of moods and styles? Perhaps, but somehow the Nightingales, the Traditions and WHOA managed to work together, filling in for each other's weaknesses and pointing up each other's strengths.