Featuring performances from Latin America, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, LGBTQ+ and hip-hop groups, the multicultural Walk it Out fashion show aimed to make culture fun .
The Walk it Out Multicultural Fashion Show had one main objective: to show culture as something fun. If the applause and audience participation at the event were anything to go by, the show was a resounding success.
Conversations buzzed in the Iowa Memorial Union’s main lounge as people entered the room. Students, parents and children took their places waiting for the stage to fill with artists.
Walk it Out is a student organization that aims to celebrate culture on the University of Iowa campus. This year’s performance was the first in-person show due to COVID-19 concerns. Latin America, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, LGBTQ+, and Hip Hop were the six cultures represented on the 2022 show.
Initially, Native America was also a band that was supposed to be featured, but they weren’t included on the show. Amna Haider, president of the organization, said the group did not have enough role models to attend the show due to extenuating circumstances and they could not perform.
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Latin America was the first band to hit the stage. Bandleaders Solange Bolger and Denise Perez, both UI students, started the show and the audience immediately started cheering.
A fun energy permeated the air as more performers took the stage. Dancing to both Latin American classical music and more modern tunes, it immediately became clear that this fashion show was about much more than showing clothes.
Throughout the performances there was a lot of intricate footwork and intricate choreography. The audience applauded throughout the performance. At one point there was an audio malfunction, but the dancers and audience didn’t seem to hesitate or diminish the support.
The second group presented was Africa. With clothing donated by local Iowa City business Nana’s African Boutique, the African group had a wide variety and culture represented within their specific group.
Several regions and cultures of Africa were presented. There were two-tone outfits with intricate patterns, bright colors accented by stage lights, and loose, draped clothing around the models to create a smoother look.
There was an increased focus on actual clothing with the African group, although the dancing itself was practiced and skilled. The movements and music also represented multiple cultures in Africa, featuring slower routines that contained smaller movements and other faster compositions that involved more body movement.
Before the group representing South Asia arrived, one of the animators revealed to the audience that the choreography for this routine had been completed in just two weeks. Despite this short notice, the group was simply well prepared.
The choreography and dance moves accompanied by South Asian music excited the audience to a new level. Loud cheers were heard throughout the grand ballroom, with infectious smiles adorning the faces of patrons.
After the intricate choreography which was skillfully executed, the group’s focus shifted to clothing. Featuring various outfits from different South Asian cultures, the conclusion merged dance, fashion and music.
The East Asian group arrived after a short intermission. Drawing inspiration from the duality of Asian culture in America, the performance was preceded by a struggle that many Asian Americans face – being “too Asian” for American culture and “too American” for asian culture.
The performance of this group was able to sum up this idea. Featuring K-pop themes mixed with routines embodying American culture — including a dance to Brittney Spears’ “Toxic” — the East Asian group showed the duality of culture and identity.
There was also a fusion of traditional and modern East Asian fashion. During the outfit presentation portion of the performance, the models adorned both contemporary streetwear and more classic outfits. The combination of the two presented at the same time expresses the constantly evolving concept of culture.
The lights were dimmed before the LGBTQ+ group started. Walk it Out as an organization raises funds for AIDS awareness, which means that this particular culture has been given special emphasis.
Self-expression and diverse representation in the LGBTQ+ community were central ideas for the group. Gender expression was also a key theme, showing outfits that represented femininity, masculinity, both and neither.
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Acts of love and connection were seen on stage, some as small as blowing a kiss or receiving a hug. Other acts were more intimate, with slow ballroom dancing taking up the early part of the show.
The group ended with all the performers on stage, connected to each other in a setting close to The last supper. The famous painting was projected onto a screen and the lights went black.
Anticipation has been building for the latest band to hit the stage – Hip Hop. Arousing the enthusiasm of the audience, the hosts said that the audience should encourage the artists as loudly as possible.
Various popular artists performed as models performed with energy and joy. Beyoncé, Missy Elliot and Megan Thee Stallion were some of the performers who were featured.
The edification of black women was an essential theme throughout the play. At one point, three signs were held up that said Protect Black Women, Raise Black Voices and Trust Black Women. The entire performance was preceded by a speech by the hosts, stating that much of hip hop culture was influenced and cultivated by black women.
The final part of the routine saw all of the dancers on stage dancing to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Body.” The audience went absolutely crazy, applauding at the end of the show.
Then all the artists from all the bands and the Walk it Out management team crowded onto the stage. The audience gave a standing ovation to everyone involved and it was made clear that the goals of the show had been achieved.