A Shocking Dose of Popular Culture

The Culture Shock Dance Troupe performed "Kill Bill: Volume 3" at New Paltz High School.
The Culture Shock Dance Troupe performed "Kill Bill: Volume 3" at New Paltz High School on Nov. 6

The Culture Shock Dance Troupe presented its annual “Dance Evolution” show/competition on Nov. 6 at New Paltz High School. The event, titled “Kill Bill: Volume 3,” drew hundreds of family, friends and alumni who came to support the dance team.

After using themes from a number of magical and fantasy-based films in previous shows, the troupe decided to take on something new. Dey Armbrister, the group’s public relations and music coordinator said the Tarantino flick-themed show was appropriate for the Culture Shock Dance Troupe because it strives to incorporate various cultural elements into its performances.

“We [don’t only] do hip-hop, we do a whole array of genres,” Armbrister said. “We do voguing, reggae, contemporary – we even dabbled in Irish dancing before. Anything you can name, we’ve tried it out.”

Having chosen “Kill Bill” as the inspiration for this year’s event, the dancers of Culture Shock Troupe stomped and swiped at one another in a series of deadly dance-offs. Dancers acted as characters from the film and performed routines in a condensed mash-up of the “Kill Bill” series.

The performance didn’t follow the exact lines of the movie, however.

“We watched both parts of the movie and we chose what stuck out for us and then we revamped it,” he said. “We take certain elements out of the movies, but we make them our own, which is why this year it was ‘Kill Bill Volume 3.’ We would highlight original ‘Kill Bills,’ but we put our own spin to it.”

The “Kill Bill”-themed performance began with a psychiatric-inspired version of the film’s hospital scene. Hospital patients moved mechanically to a chime-filled version of “Twisted Nerve” (The well-known whistling tune from the film) before Beatrix Kiddo, played by Culture Shock Dance Troupe Treasurer Amanda Grappone, tore off her hospital gown.

Wearing the infamous yellow tracksuit, Grappone performed a number of routines with the Crazy 88, who surrounded her menacingly as they fought for O-Ren Ishii.

“What’s interesting about this show was that as it progressed, if you were killed off, you’d become part of the Crazy 88,” said Armbrister.

The introduction of O-Ren Ishii, played by Vice President Miyah Tomlinson, evoked Asian influences such as the Kung Fu poses the dancers took and the fan-like movements of their gloved hands.

Many dance troupe members said they were proud of their ability to include other cultural elements into their routines because in previous years, the performances were largely hip-hop centric.

“I think the audience, particularly the Culture Shock alumni, saw how diverse we’ve become and how strong we were as a team,” said Grappone. “And even how the production ran, it was a lot smoother than prior years. I think we impressed a lot of people.”

For some on Culture Shock, this year’s performance topped those of the past.

“Even alumni who have been in it five years before me, they said that this was the best they’ve ever seen,” Grappone said.

Alumni were present at the performance, including host and former president Angel Espada, who graduated last year.

Members of Culture Shock Dance Troupe said they look forward to the future.

“Part of what we tried to do this year and what we want to keep doing is continue expanding out to different groups of students on campus because a lot of the time, the same students are coming in,” said Caitlin Ryan, a dancer in the troupe who played a member of the Crazy 88. “What we’re hoping to do is expand so more people get exposed to us.”