The 2016 IASAS Cultural Convention for Dance, Drama, Art, and Tech was hosted in Taipei between March 3-5. The convention kicked off in the Guy Lott Jr. Auditorium, where the delegates, buzzing with anticipation and excitement, were introduced. Soon, they were off to their respective groups to participate in workshops. The hosts, Taipei American School, presented their Drama and Dance piece first – an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. The play centered on the themes of feminism, duty, and artificiality, and the dancers enhanced the plot by providing an abstract view on the internal feelings of the female protagonist, Nora Helmer (played by Columbia Roy ‘16). The performance proved to be a success, and a great start to CulCon, as the cast bowed to a standing ovation.
Delegates then had time to socialise, eat, and drink bubble tea, and then art exhibition commenced. Students, faculty, and visitors milled around the lobby of the auditorium, as they gazed at the talent exhibited through different mediums. From sculptures, to documentaries, to sketches – the countless hours poured into the artwork was evident, as the pieces moved and amazed the onlookers. Then, the International School of Manila graced the stage with their Drama and Dance piece, Internecine War in the Kingdom of Ra. The original play, inspired by Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, contained moments of shock, sadness, and laughter, and also wowed the audience through the seamless use of both actors and dancers. Both performances from Day 1 were a hit, and set a high standard for all following schools to meet.
Day 2 was much like Day 1, with workshops for the delegates to mingle, and many performances. The dance delegates’ workshops consisted of contemp-hip hop lead by Frit and Frat Fuller, and contemporary technique lead by Ronny Wong. Dance and Drama delegates collaborated in a triple threat workshop lead by Brooks Hall, where they were exposed to musical theater. Drama delegates were taught how to fly by Jez Gregg, and created vibrant and engaging scripts and stories for the stage with Darren Canady. The art delegates experimented with different mediums and techniques, and even explored Taiwanese influences in art. The tech delegates also focused on lighting design and exercises through the direction of Dean Panttaja. Then, International School of Bangkok performed Bang Bang You’re Dead, a thought provoking, character-driven play inspired by the events in Springfield, Oregon in 1998 – a “vehicle to increase awareness of the consequences of school violence amongst teens”. It was then followed by a performance of a different nature by Singapore American School. Their dance piece, Jigsaw, used the program “Kahoot” to encourage audience participation. The viewers would decide the music and the order of the sequences for the final showing. After a little preview, the audience chose the Michael Jackson mix for the routine. With a flurry of kicks and tricks, the SAS dance team impressed the crowd. Then, Jakarta Intercultural School performed their rendition of Edward Albee’s The American Dream, a satirical commentary on the nature of American society in the 1960’s using theater of the absurd. JIS included different styles as well, such as Japanese butoh theater to enhance the plot. For the evening show, ISKL staged their 20 minute dance, Three Seconds, where the extreme and rapid effects of modern civilization on Earth was depicted, and exposed the exploitative nature of humans. In The Space Between Raindrops, SAS Drama included humor while showing the internal conflicts of actors – what is real and what is fake? Through love triangles and fights, the cast showed the fine line between what is written on the script, and real life. Then, ISB concluded Day 2 with Deviare, a dance that embraced imperfections on a pursuit for perfection. In a world of conformity, they celebrated their quirks and differences through the dance.
Day 3 was solemn, as it dawned on the delegates that CulCon was drawing to a close. The morning started with workshops in all departments. After lunch, JIS performed their work Il Peint, inspired by the Russian-French modernist, Marc Chagall. Using different props such as paint and frames, the dance depicted the turbulent life that influenced Chagall’s work, and even included his piece, Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers. Finally, the hosts of next year’s CulCon, ISKL, concluded the weekend with their comedy, Camp Monkswell, adapted from Agatha Christie’s The Mouse Trap. With references to several IASAS pieces this year, the play received swells of laughter and jubilation from the crowd. Then, Drama and Dance delegates trickled off to their final workshop. After the small group discussion, where representatives from each school discussed their piece, the closing ceremony commenced. Eric Peng ‘16 of TAS was recognized as the Spirit of IASAS for his hard work and dedication. Others were commended for their hard work and dedication to the IASAS community, such as Ms. Silverman from SAS and Ms. Yonkey from TAS. The four year IASAS delegates, Celine Chai and Jessica Skinner from JIS were acknowledged. To top the convention off, all delegates celebrated their three days in Taipei with a closing dinner – accompanied by chants for IASAS crushes and dancing. Soon, as curfew loomed closer, students gathered for final hugs and congratulations, with echoes of “Keep in touch” and “See you next year” bouncing off the walls of the Legacy Commons. This convention brought together the IASAS community to celebrate the different aspects of the visual and performing arts over the span of three days. Reflecting on his 5 days in Taipei, Quentin Dorleans ‘17, and ISKL IASAS Dance delegate said, “I thought that everyone took care of each other, and there were no boundaries between the teams compared to sports conventions. Undoubtedly, delegates are already counting down the days for next year’s CulCon at ISKL.