Twentieth-anniversary Rangeela is a ‘footmark of what was and what is to come’

Photo+by+Michael+Hsu

Photo by Michael Hsu

“I wanted international students to ‘get a place on the map’ of Calvin College,” said Anne Zaki.

Twenty years ago, Anne Zaki noticed a division between Calvin’s international students and their students from the United States. She wanted to create something that would draw attention to the international student population.

This began an incredible journey that would change the history of Calvin’s performing arts. The beginning of Rangeela added an annual and stunningly beautiful, multi-cultural performance filled with ethnic diversity.

This year, Calvin commemorated the 20-year “footprint” of the Rangeela festival performance. In honor of the anniversary, this year’s theme for the festival was “footmark.”

The theme marks the anniversary of Rangeela’s beginning and shows how the show has evolved over time. More importantly, the theme demonstrates how the actors and performers are able to display their cultures ethnic footmark left on the world and on campus.

“When you love a place so much, you want to show gratitude in the place that gave us our faith formation, so we can leave our footprint,” Zaki said.

Rangeela has shown how students are able to leave their footmark through both old cultural traditions and current cultural practices.

The actors and performers accomplished this by focusing this year’s Rangeela festival on the idea of “What was, What is and What is to Come.”

Many acts showed traditional cultural numbers, while others revealed what their culture looks like today. The Chinese performance, for example, combined a traditional Chinese dance with a modern dance, conveying the idea that old and new can fit together to form something beautiful.

The Indonesian play also gave the audience a look back at the history of Dutch colonialism, its modern effects and the dynamics that are felt among current Calvin students.

The Korean group performed a modern techno hip-hop dance dressed in traditional costume. These three performances highlighted the importance of old age culture, while also featuring new age cultural dynamics.

The finale brought all the acts to a harmonious close. Artists from each performance returned to the stage for the last five minutes of the festival.

Each performed a portion of their routine simultaneously, but the spectacle that sprung out of the diversity of each act melded into something graceful and artistic.

The performers were seen as one body, but represented an array of beautiful and distinct cultures within that body. Each performer displayed a meaningful aspect of their own culture, leaving some of their cultural footmark on the stage and within the audience’s mind.

When performed together, each individual footmark from the various cultural performances created a larger work which was even more beautiful than the individuality of each culture.

It was a stunning display of diversity among an equally talented group of performers. This unity within diversity is precisely what everyone on this earth should await but also work toward. Such beautiful unity is what Christians know for certain will be waiting for them in eternal glory.

A footmark of diversity within one campus is what Anne Zaki had in mind when she brainstormed the idea for a multicultural performance at Calvin College 20 years ago.

She wanted something that showed the students at Calvin as a cultural mosaic, a celebration of diversity and a festival of our unity of ethnicities.”

Rangeela truly has inspired — and will continue to inspire — the Calvin community to ponder and appreciate the beauty in its diverse student body.