First Annual Luso-Brasilian Day Celebration Promotes Cultural Awareness

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Published May 1, 2016
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The Montclarion
Various facts and photos are displayed to kick off the event. Photo Credit: Nicholas Da Silva
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Various facts and photos are displayed to kick off the event.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Da Silva

As the school year is coming to a close, many students are already preparing themselves for a summer full of parties and celebrations. Montclair State University has started early with the festivities through events such as Montclairfest, but there are some other on-campus celebrations that many people are likely not even aware of.

One of those celebrations was the first annual Luso-Brasilian Day event, a celebration of Portuguese and Brazilian cultures held at the Cohen Lounge in Dickson Hall on April 25. The two-part event was the product of a collaborative effort by Montclair State’s Department of Spanish and Italian, the Global Education Center and the Dean’s Office for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The first half of Luso-Brasilian Day occurred from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., while the second half of the event began at 6 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m.

The event was primarily organized by Michelle Kettner, professor of Portuguese at Montclair State and the coordinator of the school’s Portuguese department. Aside from putting the event together, Kettner also called in dancers and performers for the students.

As students from various classes walked into Cohen Lounge before the first half of the celebration started, they were introduced to a photo exhibit courtesy of Brazilian photographer, Amanda Lima. In the back of the room stood a mural with information about Brazilian and Portuguese culture. Given that this was the first time this particular event happened on campus, students did not know what to expect.

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On the walls of the Cohen Lounge are photos provided for the Luso-Brasilian Day celebration by Brazilian photographer, Ananda Lima.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Da Silva

Tyler Vandenberg, a sophomore and student in the Diverse Worlds of Music class, was one of the many who waited with uncertainty before the event.

“I have no idea what this event is about,” Vandenberg said. “Yet, I am excited to see what happens.”

During the hour, students enjoyed performances of dances from Brazilian culture. The first of these two dance performances was from Janete Da Silva, director and choreographer at the Silva Dance Company. She performed several variations of the samba that are all rooted in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Even when the music playing for her dance got cut, Da Silva managed to keep the performance going until its climactic finish.

When asked about why it was important for students to learn about lesser known aspects of a culture different from their own, Da Silva claimed that it was important because of the purpose of adaptation. Da Silva said that, as someone who is always adapting throughout her life, she feels that students should have the opportunity to learn about other cultures and adapt themselves.

The second of the two performances came from a capoeira dance group. The dancers in this group were members of a capoeira class under Montclair State’s Department of Theatre and Dance. While doing their performance of the capoeira, which is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and acrobatics, two students were asked to volunteer and participate in the dance. Both students managed to do a solid job thanks to the help of the professionals guiding them along.

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Professor Michelle Kettner holds a flyer for the Luso-Brazilian Day celebration that she helped plan.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Da Silva

Professor David Morgan, the instructor of the capoeira class, encouraged students to get involved in the dance by promoting the sense of fun and friendship, “Capoeira is a community where you make friends,” Morgan said. “You go to these clubs and get to meet new people.”

As the performances came to an end, the students gave a round of applause for all the performers who had given them a great show and made their day just a little more special. The organizers of the Luso-Brazilian Day event were highly satisfied with how the first part of the event played out.

Linda Levine, chair of the Montclair State’s Spanish department, was beaming with pride when talking about the event. Levine said that events like the Luso-Brazilian Day celebration were needed at colleges in order to promote cultural awareness among the current generation.

“There are so many students at the school with a Portuguese background,” Levine said. “We want to expose as many students as possible to their own culture.”

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