Featuring performances from Latin America, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, LGBTQ+, and Hip Hop groups, the Walk it Out Multicultural Fashion Show aimed to make culture fun.
The Walk it Out Multicultural Fashion Show had one primary goal — to show culture as something fun. If the applause and audience turnout for the event are anything to go by, then the show was a wild success.
Chatter hummed through the Iowa Memorial Union’s Main Lounge as people filtered into the room. Students, parents, and children took their seats as they waited for the stage to fill with performers.
Walk it Out is a student organization that is aimed at celebrating culture across the University of Iowa campus. This year’s performance was the first in-person show due to COVID-19-related concerns. Latin America, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, LGBTQ+, and Hip Hop were the six cultures represented in the 2022 show.
Initially, Native America was also a group that was meant to be represented, however, they were not included in the show. Amna Haider, the organization’s president, said that the group did not have enough models to attend the show due to extenuating circumstances, and they could not perform.
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Latin America was the first group that took to the stage. The group leaders Solange Bolger and Denise Perez, who are both students at the UI, started the performance, and the audience immediately began clapping along.
Fun energy permeated the air as more performers took the stage. Dancing to both classical Latin American music and more modern tunes, it became immediately clear that this fashion show was much more than showing off clothes.
Through the performances, there was a great deal of intricate footwork and complex choreography. The audience was cheering throughout the entire performance. At one point, there was an audio malfunction, but the dancers and audience did not seem to hesitate or lessen 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 great deal of variety and culture represented within their specific group.
Several regions and cultures within Africa were presented. There were dual-chromatic outfits with complex patterns, bright colors that were accentuated by the stage lights, and clothing that was loose and draped around the models to create a smoother look.
There was a heightened focus on the actual clothing with the Africa group, though the dancing itself was practiced and skilled. The moves and music also represented several cultures within Africa, showcasing some slower routines that contained smaller movements and other faster compositions that involved more bodily movement.
Before the group representing South Asia came on, one of the hosts revealed to the audience that the choreography for this routine was brought together in only two weeks. Despite that short notice, the group was nothing short of 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 large ballroom, with contagious smiles adorning the faces of the patrons.
After the complicated choreography that was executed with skill, the shift of the group moved to clothing. Showcasing various outfits from different cultures within South Asia, the conclusion melded dance, fashion, and music together.
The East Asia group came on after a short intermission. Taking inspiration from the duality of Asian culture in America, the performance was prefaced with a struggle that many Asian Americans face — being “too Asian” for American culture and “too American” for Asian culture.
The performance from this group was able to encapsulate that idea. Showcasing K-pop themes spliced with routines that embodied American culture — including a dance to Brittney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ — the East Asia group showed the duality of culture and identity.
There was also a melding of traditional and modern East Asian fashion. During the portion of the performance that was focused on showcasing outfits, models adorned both contemporary streetwear and more classical outfits. The combination of the both presented at the same time expressed the ever-evolving concept of culture.
Lights were dimmed before the LGBTQ+ group began. Walk it Out as an organization raises money for AIDS awareness, meaning that this culture in particular was given specific weight.
Self-expression and diverse representation in the LGBTQ+ community were the group’s focal ideas. Gender expression was also a key theme, showing outfits that portrayed 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 first portion of the performance.
The group ended with all of the performers on stage, connected to each other in a setting akin to The Last Supper. The famous painting was projected onto a screen, and the lights dimmed to black.
Anticipation built for the final group to take the stage — Hip Hop. Building excitement for the audience, the hosts said that the audience had to cheer as loud as they could for the performers.
Various popular artists played as models performed with energy and joy. Beyoncé, Missy Elliot, and Megan Thee Stallion were a few of the artists that were played.
Uplifting Black women was an essential theme throughout the piece. At one point, three signs were held up that read protect Black women, uplift Black voices, and trust Black women. The entire performance was prefaced with a speech from the hosts, saying that a great deal of hip hop culture was influenced and cultivated by Black women.
The final part of the routine had all of the dancers on stage dancing to ‘Body’ by Megan Thee Stallion. The audience went absolutely wild, cheering at the conclusion of the show.
Afterward, every performer from every group and the executive team at Walk it Out got crammed onto the stage. The audience offered a standing ovation to everyone involved, and it was made clear that the goals of the show were met.