By Ikra Islam ’19
Dancers stand, patiently waiting for the lights to kick in and the music to start blasting. The stage director hovers closely, watching the lights follow the dancers on and off the stage. This is the behind the scenes for those preparing for this year’s Kwanzaa fest.
“As we get closer to the show the rehearsals become more hectic,” said Chinwenclu Unianawei ’18.
Kwanzaa Fest is held annually on December 20. This year will be Midwood’s 29th
year celebrating Kwanzaa.
“It’s important students learn about Kwanzaa at school because once they go home they are no longer exposed to the culture,” said Bianca Jeune ’19.
Safiya Skeffer ’18, president of the Black Heritage Alliance, said, “There’s are a lot that’s not taught in textbooks and this is a way for kids to learn about other cultures. This is not just for black students, it’s for all different races to come together and celebrate.”
Students began auditioning for the show in early November. Almost a hundred participants are working behind the scenes to produce this year’s show. The festival showcases a variety of talents in fields such as singing, dancing, and modeling.
“Getting people to audition is hard,” said Skeffer ’18. “Students are shy and new to being in the spotlight.”
“When searching for talent we seek motivated individuals,” said Skeffer ’18, “It’s important that everyone shows up to rehearsal and puts their all in.”
Cecilia Mendes ’19 is one of the many students who auditioned to be a part of the festival.
“I was nervous when I first auditioned because I never modelled before,” she said, “but I’m glad that I tried out. This way I know what to expect next year.” Mendes said that although she didn’t make the cut this year, she’ll definitely audition again.
Once the auditioning phase is over, it’s time to get to work. The STEP team, dancers, models, and decorating team work countless hours until the night of the show.
Anie Yvon ’19 said, “Our students are giving their best for the show, tirelessly working to make sure the festival is the best that it can be.”
Britney Patterson ’20, a dancer on the STEP team, said, “It’s pretty chaotic, we’re practicing everyday Mondays to Fridays 3:30 to 5:30 running our lines and going over the routine.”
The rehearsals are well organized and coordinated. Everyone is aware of their time and place. Once the music is queued and the lights hit the stage, there is no place for mistakes.
One of the many challenges during production is making sure there are no technical errors said Bianca Jeune ’19.
“The decorations have to be put up, the actors, actresses, dancers and candle lighters all have to get their makeup done, the costumes need to be fitted,” said Jeune ’19. On the night of the show everyone’s on edge. Kwanzaa is the first event of the year, and it’s important everything runs smoothly.
The festival allows students to get involved with the school, learn about new cultures, and receive the opportunity to earn service credits.
Raifa Chowdhury ’18 said, “The school should host more cultural events. I had a great time at last year’s Kwanzaa Fest, and I know many other students did as well.”
Skeffer ’19 said, “Kwanzaa is about getting back to our roots and celebrating a time when everything was good, and bringing everybody back together and being a community.”
Kwanzaa fest is on December 20 at 6pm, it’s free, and all students are welcome. After the show, the Black Heritage Alliance will hold a feast downstairs in the cafeteria.