‘Carnaval’ brings mixture of ethnic customs to students

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The University Student Union and the Union Program Council programming body hosted its annual Carnaval event, a showcase and celebration of a variety of diverse cultures and campus clubs and organizations.

The free event was held Monday through Wednesday in both the USU and the Satellite Student Union, and was financially co-sponsored by the UPC. Festivities included a mixture of cultural dance and musical performances, an art exhibit that lasted all three days, and free food.

The Filipino American Student Association performed a traditional Filipino dance in which two people crouch close to the ground, holding opposite ends of long bamboo sticks. The performers strike the sticks on the ground and against one another to create a musical rhythm, while dancers jump and move around them.

“We were serving Filipino food (and) Greek food, and there was a salsa band,” said Carole Desgroppes-Brown, program coordinator for the USU.

Live reggae music and a performance of Capoeira, a distinctive Afro-Brazilian martial art form, were featured on Tuesday’s Carnaval schedule. The Capoeira performance included carefully timed movements by the performers and utilized elements of gymnastics and quick changes of direction.

UCLA student Phillipos Haile, a member of the performance troupe, said Capoeira is an art form that has continuously evolved over the years, gradually incorporating more aspects of diverse Brazilian culture.

“The roots are in Africa,” Haile said. “Slaves from different parts of Africa (were brought) to Brazil. They mingled, and that’s how (Capoeira) was born.”

Haile said that although the lyrics of the music that accompanies Capoeira are in Portuguese, there are African words mixed in, particularly Yoruba, a prominent West African language. Haile also commented that there are aspects of old African religions in the art form, as well.

“Capoeira has evolved,” Haile said. “Everyone has put in their input. Today, (Capoeira is) a compilation (of various Brazilian cultures).”

Sonya Freeman, junior child and adolescent development major, said she has seen Capoeira before and enjoyed it, and therefore made a point to see the performance during Carnaval.

Students who migrated from the Capoeira performance to the Carnaval art exhibit were treated to free food and Mardi Gras-style beads and masks, given out by event volunteers. The artwork was created by CSUN students, which Desgroppes-Brown said was acquired after event organizers sent out a flier inviting students to submit their work.

Freeman pointed out one piece of art that caught her eye in particular titled, “Different but the Same,” by Shelly Moore. The piece depicts an African American woman’s face divided down the middle, one side painted with different colors and the left side shaded in only black and white.

Ludmila Rusanovsky, junior economics major, said her favorite artwork was a painting entitled “Surf’s Up,” by Joey Japlit, located near the entrance of the exhibit.

At the end of Carnaval, the three best pieces will be chosen for long-term exhibition at the Satellite Student Union.