Review: Women in the Arts
By: Christina Riley
Women for Women’s fourth annual charity event, Women in the Arts lit up The Stage with a variety showcase, celebrating women and their achievements. The event immersed its attendees in art, both through performance and visual aesthetics, from the beginning. Upon entering, a humble display of beautifully crafted artwork was laid out amongst fairy lights, alongside a selection of profiles of the women the society sponsors. In addition to student paintings, a handwoven basket (which was a gift from a sponsor) was also laid out - a touching act of generosity thanking the women who helped change her life. As the audience was greeted with a warm welcome from the society members, the night promised to be one of inclusivity, talent and a general love for the charity’s endeavours.
The Hummingbirds opened the show with a melodious performance, easing the audience into a variety of acts. Their soft, feminine sound was refreshing: it was a pleasing performance and a strong introduction to the show. Juxtaposing the serene atmosphere generated by The Hummingbirds, the Blue Angels’ tap dancers lit up the stage with their ‘Mambo No. 5’ routine. Male members of the team also contributed to the performance and to Women for Women’s cause, showing that while the show was a celebration of women and their talents, support was not gender restrictive. Intermediate and advanced performances were also enjoyed by the audience, although plagued with minor timing issues in otherwise technical and dynamic performances. However, it was the hip-hop team’s minion-inspired routine which was the Blue Angels’ standout comic performance. After a moving and evocative poem that was recited beforehand, the dance provided a welcome change of pace.
Showcasing their poetic talent, Brianna Chu and Loui Marchant both performed a stunning self-written piece highlighting the issues and stereotypes women face. In examining the effects of slut-shaming and rape culture, both writers reminded the audience of some of the reasons why we were partaking in the event that evening. The gravity of these issues was explored, but without relinquishing the ability to entertain. The rawness of Chu’s and Marchant’s performance resonated well, its haunting beauty and realism stealing the show while keeping the problem of women’s marginalisation at the forefront of all our minds.
Ukulele Fusion and Sarah Grant both gave charming performances which complemented the show’s grit, with Grant performing a flawless flute piece. Highland Fusion injected a splash of culture into the show with their traditional highland dancing, adding a personal Scottish touch to the set. The show’s stellar cast allowed Women for Women to provide a comprehensive glimpse into the arts, while only touching on the range of talent St Andrews is home to.
Closing the show, The Accidentals gave an upbeat performance, showcasing songs they believed empowered women. Their fuchsia pink jackets popped, and while their outfits and voices were in perfect harmony with one another, each member’s personality shone through, adding character to their set. Rounding off their annual appearance on a high, the audience warmly received them, helping to culminate a fantastic night of music, laughter, sorrow and joy.
Loui Marchant, a society member and performer, was keen to share with me her joy as part of Women for Women, and expressed how proud she is of the work she is contributing to. Named University of St Andrews’ International Charity of the Year for 2016-2017, Women for Women continue to carry out inspiring work to help marginalised women living in war-torn countries. Thus, while the women of St Andrews demonstrated a spectacular range of talent, the most praise has to be given to the incredible charity, Women for Women, for their commendable efforts to engender change in many women’s lives, and within women themselves.