Professor Magda Tsaneva is a professor in the Economics department at Clark University and holds a PhD in Economics. As this is her first year at Clark University, she had never attended the International GALA, and she had a fresh perspective of the event that has become part of the Clark “culture”. Professor Tsaneva is originally from Bulgaria but has lived in many places around the world.
Q: As a professor that has never seen GALA before, did you have any expectations leading up to it? If so what were they and were they met? Had you seen any videos of past GALA performances?
A: I didn’t really know much about the Gala before attending other than the fact that my students referred to the week leading up to it as “hell week” and half of my students were missing from class during that week. 🙂 So I knew everyone was working really hard for it and was excited to showcase their culture and their talents. I hadn’t seen any videos of past performances so I didn’t really know the format of the show. When I was an undergraduate student at Colby College, however, we did have something similar that we called the International Extravaganza so I myself had participated multiple times in such performances in college.
Q: The theme for this year’s GALA was the GALA Effect. Do you think that the theme translated in the show?
A: I think the Gala was very successful in celebrating diversity because it was in the one universal language that everyone, no matter their background, speaks – the language of music and dance. If that is what the Gala effect is, then I think you guys did a great job.
I liked that you also included groups from the community in order to raise awareness about the refugee and immigrant population in Worcester. And this is probably a better manifestation of the butterfly metaphor you used to describe the Gala effect.
I think if you guys want to keep up with the theme of creating awareness and changing the world, you could consider in the future potentially trying to express things through theater or poetry (to keep up with the performance theme). For example, you could have poems (or book excerpts) read about the immigrant experience, or you could do little theater sketches (with words or no words).
Similarly, I think you could have awareness campaigns through poetry or theater or dance or song for various global issues such as women’s rights, child soldiers, migrant workers, political violence, etc. I think this would be both informative and interesting and it will be more engaging and memorable in the long run because these types of acts are more likely to carry a clear message that people take with them when they leave, a message people want to pass on or live up to or do something about. It was great that we took a couple of moments of silence during the performance, but I doubt anyone leaves remembering what those were about or leaves wanting to do something about it. Because really, the focus of the show was dance and entertainment. This is great and it is needed. I am just sharing my thoughts for the future. 🙂
Q: Did you have any favorite dances, or was any one dance the most memorable performance of night?
A: I think people had put a lot of effort and enthusiasm in all of the performances so I enjoyed watching them all!
Q: What did you think of the GALA hosts and their skits?
A: To be honest, I didn’t think the skits that the hosts did were the best part of the show. I think part of it was that some of the jokes were inside jokes that maybe students knew well and could appreciate but were not as funny for the outsiders. But at the end of the day, you guys are putting this show on for you, too, and it is important that you have fun.
Q: What did you think of the inclusion of an awareness campaign for refugees around Worcester in the program for the first time in the 14 years that GALA has been held?
A: I think it was a great idea to incorporate little segments about refugees and immigrants in the Worcester community. This really speaks to your goal of being inclusive, celebrating diversity, encouraging respect and caring.
I do wish that maybe there was a bit more of a discussion of some of the problems that these groups of people may be facing. I didn’t think the video you showed on Centro and SEAC was really very engaging or informative.
Q: As a professor with an international background, do you think that GALA fulfills its aim of bringing together the cultures on the Clark campus, and giving them a voice through dance to show off their culture?
A: I think you guys had representatives from every region in the world and that was wonderful.
Q: What was your favorite aspect of the show and what was your least favorite aspect of the show?
A: My favorite thing about the show was really the enthusiasm all the students had. The performers were enjoying themselves and the students in the audience was certainly enjoying themselves, too. I think enthusiasm is contagious and that’s a good thing to catch. 🙂
Q: Do you have any final comments on the event as a whole?
A: Congrats on a job well done. I hope to see many more performances in the future!
(Cover image credit: Amy Wong. Check out more pictures here!)