A world of dance is coming to West Texas this weekend when the Ethnos Culture Show opens Friday and Saturday evening at Abilene Christian University. KACU’s Emily Guajardo connects with ACU students from Burundi, South Korea, Honduras and Mexico to hear why they choose to represent their culture through dance.
During a recent rehearsal of Ethnos, traditional African music filled ACU’s Cullen Auditorium as lights revealed Burundian dancers swaying in unison. One of them is Anthia Nibizi, a petite woman with dark braided hair and a bright smile. Nibizi is a native Burundian who says performing in the multicultural show is one way for her to make Burundian refugees in Abilene to stay connected to their roots.
“They probably miss home and watching us is probably going to remind them of how it is,” Nibizi said. Nibizi said she wants to reassure refugees that her generation isn’t losing touch. “We are not forgetting what we left,” Nibizi said.
Next the lights turned to red tones and music sped up to an electrifying pace, Korean dancers spilled onto the stage with intensity. Jumping off one foot to the next, dancers like Joseph Yoon performed a k-pop routine with a smirk in their eyes.
Yoon is from South Korea, but he grew up in Sierra Leone. He’s the first to admit his cultural background is unique.
“A bit Africanish, but also a bit Korean, so it’s like black and yellow,” Yoon said.
Yoon has a different childhood experience than most of his peers but he still doesn’t feel that different from other ACU students.
“A lot of people think living abroad makes you special, no it doesn’t make you special, it’s just that I had more opportunities to see the world,” Yoon said.
Yoon wants to provide that sense of travel for other students, even if it’s just attending a multicultural dance show.
For other performers, the experience is more about developing new friendships and changing perspectives about other cultures.
Daniela Guardiola Garza moved to the United States a few months ago to study at ACU. The brown eyed, dark haired Mexican native is eager to build a community here in Abilene. Having been away from her country for a few months, Garza said she’s realized more than ever how important it is to celebrate and represent her own culture. Dancing is her way of expressing her heritage. She’s performing the salsa at Ethnos.
“I think my culture means my identity,” Garza said. “Who I am and why I behave like that.”