Underneath an arch of orange and black balloons Saturday night, Francisco Velazquez leaned over the stationary microphone on the Pasant Theatre stage and let a stream of fast, rhythmic words flow out of his mouth. "I'm never ashamed to speak on my faith, but these days, spoken words can get you killed," he said in his poem "The World Around Me."
Dressed in black, the journalism sophomore held his notebook in one hand while periodically gesturing with the other to emphasize certain words of his poem. Members of the audience murmured in agreement or made catcalls at romantic lines.
Velazquez said he has been writing poetry for two years.
"I needed something that was very therapeutic," he said. "It just flew from there."
Velazquez was one of nine performers at the Multicultural Xtravaganza IV put on by the multicultural sorority Zeta Sigma Chi. The event brought together students from different ethnic backgrounds to showcase their talents.
"We wanted to keep it as diverse as possible," said Zeta Sigma Chi President Rotasha Wardlaw. "This is to show MSU what else is out there."
Other acts in the show included a group of Hawaiian dancers, a salsa-dancing couple and a singer.
"We strongly believe it's important to get together and support each other," Wardlaw said. "It's to show unity."
An eruption of applause burst out from the crowd when the hip-hop dance group Urban Dreams came onto the stage. During the fast-paced medley of songs, the 13 dancers changed costumes and dances to represent African, Indian, reggae and hip-hop styles.
"We wanted to do something a little different, to keep the audience guessing," group member Tyeisha Dalton said. "We tried to get out of the box."
Dalton said the group likes performing at the Multicultural Xtravaganza because it is a chance to get involved with different cultures.
"We give it all we can," she said. "First, you get nervous, then it's just adrenaline."
Show presenter and Zeta Sigma Chi member Lola Ogundimu said this is the second year the sorority sisters have been organizing the show. Previously, the group's alumnae had been in charge.
"We decided to take over the reins," Ogundimu said. "It was a little bit shorter than we expected, but we still provided a great show all the same."
Ogundimu said next year, the committee will work to try and represent a wider range of ethnic backgrounds.
"We want to look more into Asian cultures," she said.
Apparel and textile design junior Blanca Gamino said she came to the show to see the different varieties of cultures.
"It shows different people that they can get together no matter their race" she said. "I think it's pretty cool."
Elizabeth Piet can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.