Diverse TRANSFORM show promotes positive self-expression

by Diego Moreno | 5/4/16 5:01pm

5.5.16-ARTS-transform-courtesy
Courtesy of Amara Ihionu
Source: Student models showcased their outfits at the TRANSFORM fashion extravaganza.

On Tuesday, Collis Common Ground brought a slice of fashion to Dartmouth. Lights flashed, models strutted and music thumped at PRIDE 2016’s TRANSFORM fashion extravaganza.

Continuing the two-week celebration of the LGBTQIA community, TRANSFORM blurred gender barriers and focused on positive self-expression through a mixture of fashion, poetry, music, dancing and video.

Danica Rodriguez ’18, who directed the show, said she hoped TRANSFORM would facilitate free expression.

“Pride in existence is kind of the ultimate form of protest,” Rodriguez said. “I really saw this show as claiming space for the LGBTQIA community.”

To set the mood for the show, the evening opened with empowering videos featuring iconic gender blurring rock stars such as Hedwig from the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (1998) and spoken word poet Denice Frohman reading her poem “Dear Straight People” (2011).

Veronique Davis ’15, who worked on the show’s technological aspect such as the lighting and video projections, said the media and visual elements of the show had a vibrant energy to them.

The fashion show featured 11 models who dressed themselves mainly in clothes donated by Revolution, a boutique located in White River Junction. Their outfits included stunning gowns, coats and hats as well as less conventional items such as a golden speedo, water guns and a bottle of hot sauce. One memorable look was a Prince-inspired outfit that included leggings and a tunic.

Cecilia Torres ’18, who modeled for the show, said she created her outfits by borrowing a dress from a friend and meeting with a partner at Revolution, who showed her a lavish ballroom gown.

Prior to the show, Torres admitted she experienced jitters over body image issues, which she said is something that negatively impacts many people at Dartmouth.

“I was nervous,” she said. “But once I walked on stage, it felt like the whole Dartmouth community was supporting me.”

Yasmeen Erritouni ’17 had a much more relaxed attitude toward the show because she said she felt she was in a comfortable environment the entire time.

“I was never nervous about getting on stage and breaking gender boundaries because that was the whole point of the show,” Erritouni said.

Regarding her outfit selections, Erritouni said she decided to wear a feminine outfit consisting of a blue romper, red wedges, makeup and glitter and contrast that with her second outfit, which was a black suit with suspenders.

“I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could do both very easily,” Erritouni said.

The show also included a three-song set by co-ed a cappella group the Sing Dynasty. Before the group sang “You’ve Got a Friend” (1971), Danielle Piacentile ’17 stressed the importance of solidarity and friendship from allies of the LGBTQIA community.

Raven Johnson ’18 and Liza Wemakor ’18 followed the Sing Dynasty’s set with a moving performance of original spoken word poetry.

The night transitioned into a light-hearted celebration of music and dance. Erritouni challenged Carlos Tifa ’19, who also modeled for the show, in an intense two-round lip synching contest. The competition energized the full crowd and ended in a tie.

Hosts Torrance Johnson ’19, Justin Maffett ’16 and Monik Walters ’19 delivered an impressive, high energy song and dance performance, despite learning their routine hours before the show.

Angie Lee ’17, a member of Street Soul, performed a solo dance routine that worked the overflowing crowd into a frenzy.

TRANSFORM concluded with a final runway strut for the models. After they took their final bows, the audience was invited to walk down the runway and join the dance party on stage.

Johnson said TRANSFORM was an amazing showcase of self-expression.

“[The show] allowed each model, performer and audience member to feel beautiful in their own way,” Johnson said.

PRIDE events conclude this Friday with a banquet at the Triangle House. A full list of the remaining PRIDE week events can be found on the Dartmouth Pride 2016 Facebook page.