Students at Tokay High School swapped sweatshirts for sarongs and jeans for jeweled headdresses Monday afternoon to take part in the International Assembly, an annual celebration of cultural diversity.
"There's such a diverse culture at Tokay," said student government adviser Jenny Haines, whose group organized the event. "This has always been a way for cultures to show what they bring (to the community)."
The assembly has been an ongoing tradition at the school for more than a decade, Haines said. It featured Latina, Tahitian and even hip-hop dancing, laced with drumming and costumes from across the globe.
Other dancers represented the Philippines, Cambodia, Ireland, Vietnam and a variety of Middle Eastern countries.
A packed auditorium welcomed each group with a roar of applause and in turn got a taste of music from around the world. A 10-member Japanese Taiko drum team started off the festivities with a routine that blended drum beating and the spinning of large drum sticks.
Jesenica Flores, a sophomore member of the Latinos de las Americas club, was one of 10 girls who wore traditional handmade dresses and danced to Mexican music. She said members of the club practiced for three weeks to get the dances right.
They came out onto the floor in black heeled shoes and long colorful skirts that swirled and swung in arcs of orange, green and purple. When the dance was over and the girls had changed back into their street clothes, the dresses lay like a pile of crumpled rainbows on the floor of the auditorium.
"It's exciting to do, and you're learning something about your heritage," Flores said of her performance.
But for many students, the assembly was a chance to try on other cultures for size.
Tahitian dancers demonstrate a dance from their culture Monday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)
The closing act featured 52 dancers of different ethnicities clad in blue and red feathers, bikini tops and skirt wraps. Female dancers gyrated their hips to the rhythm of Tahitian music and wowed the audience by dancing while standing on the backs of their male partners.
At the end of the act, the dancers formed a giant pyramid and shouted "Hey!" The drums stopped. The cheers from the crowd did not.
Contact reporter Sara Cardine at email@example.com.
Tokay High School junior Navi Athwal performs a Punjabi dance called the Bhangra on Monday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)
Tahitian dancers sign in before performing at Tokay High School's annual International Assembly on Monday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)
Tokay High School juniors Allyson Yund, left, and Nga "Jennifer" Le follow the beats along with the other eight members of the Japanese Taiko drum team at the school's annual International Assembly on Monday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)
Tokay High School junior Noemi Santiago gets twirled around by her partner as they demonstrate salsa dancing at the school's annual International Assembly on Monday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)
Salsa dancer Lizette Arroyo draws eyeliner on Noemi Santiago as they prepare for Tokay High School's annual International Assembly on Monday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)