Latinos Unidos hosted an annual event intended for its members and alumni on May 2nd. When asked about the event, club president Stephanie Bonja More »
On Sunday, April 26, at 12:50 a.m., Purchase senior Moneace Smith and a friend were approached by UPD Lt. Donnell Charles after More »
“A 5,6,7,8,” yells dance enthusiast Shawn Garnier at the beginning of each day. His piercing, hazel eyes narrow as he critically watches his students dance his sassy choreography. Each set of counts gets louder as his eyes widen and his arms cross. Garnier purses his lips and taps his foot, sporting neon pink socks. If the class is lucky, Garnier claps his hands three times and continues to teach new steps.
Garnier, 43, teaches various dance styles five days a week, at five separate schools: Purchase College, Manhattanville College, Queens College, Westchester Community College, and Taft High School. His dance classes include ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip-hop.
Covered in tattoos and standing at 5 feet and 5 inches, Garnier is not your typical dance teacher. He estimated that there were 20 tattoos on his body but could not get an exact count. He wears baggy clothes, combat boots, and a hat covering his right ear while sporting the newest Michael Kors bag. He is up to date on all of the current slang and incorporates it into his lexicon using terms like ‘ratchet’ and ‘twerk it.’
“He’s a short guy with a big attitude,” said China DuVall, one of Garnier’s sophomore hip-hop students. “Shawn doesn’t look like your typical dancer, which is cool because when he dances it makes him even more interesting to watch.”
Garnier began dancing when he was 5 years old taking ballet, jazz, and tap; his mother wanted him to grow artistically. His dance idols are William Forsythe, Wade Robson, and Michael Jackson.
After the passing of his father, his mother moved the family from Indiana to Nebraska, and later, to Wyoming. At 21 years old, he moved to Las Vegas to pursue a career in entertainment, where he first began teaching.
“I was a poor ballet dancer, and I got evicted out of my apartment,” said Garnier, “so I was like ‘I need a job, I need a real job,’ and I moved to Vegas because there was so much work.”
Shortly after, he was offered a professional job dancing in a show called, “Sky Tower Casino” in Auckland, New Zealand. He performed there for a year before returning to the United States.
Garnier then went to Queens College for his BA in theater and dance, and double majored in comparative literature. After that, he got his master’s degree in choreography from Purchase College.
These days he lives in Queens with his boyfriend, Paul, and pug, Rocco. Paul is a NYPD Police Officer and will soon be retiring. They have been together for 16 years, but are not married and do not plan on having children. They would like to spend the years after Paul’s retirement traveling.
“He won’t marry me,” sighed Garnier as he lightly brushed his fingers over his shaved head. “When the law was passed [legalizing gay marriage in New York] we got into a huge fight over it because I want a big-ass wedding.”
Growing up as a gay male in the Midwest wasn’t easy; he faced many challenges. “I’ve known since I was a little kid,” he said. “It was really horrible. I thought that I was the only gay person on the planet,” said Garnier, “like I thought I was a weirdo.” At an early age, he found himself being interested in and having crushes on boys.
Although Garnier knew his sexuality early on in life, his mother did not.
“She’s very religious, the whole Midwest is like that,” he said. “It took about a year for my family to get used to. My mother read my journal, and I hadn’t even had sex yet so I hadn’t even cemented that I was gay, but like I would talk about boys in my journal and she screamed, ‘Are you gay!’ and I said, ‘I buy your clothes for you! What do you think, mom?’ That’s what I call denial.’’
Back at Purchase, he can now embrace his personality while at work. He has his classes “diva walk” across the floor to warm up before choreography and encourages students to use their bodily assets while dancing.
“I feel like a bad-ass bitch and I love it,” said Tyler Henson, one of his junior hip-hop students.
Garnier keeps a very casual relationship with his students as he allows them to call him by his first name. “I love Shawn,” said Maggie Murphy, one of Garnier’s freshman Purchase College dance students. “He is a great guy and a fabulous teacher.”
Being that Garnier is a Purchase Alumnus, his colleagues were once his teachers. They have seen him grow not only as a dancer, but as a teacher.
“He has an excellent reputation as a teacher,” said Larry Clark, the Interim Director of the dance conservatory, “and I certainly hear him yelling at the students all the time from my office.”
Dance consumes Garnier’s life. Between teaching and studying new choreography, there isn’t much time for anything else. When asked what he likes to do in his free time, he hesitated as his pupils drifted leftward. “I guess I ski,” he said after a few moments.
Garnier’s love of dance drives him to work in his underpaying, stressful field. “I do it because I love it,” he said in a serious tone of voice, “I mean, what else would I do?”
Latinos Unidos hosted an annual event intended for its members and alumni on May 2nd.
When asked about the event, club president Stephanie Bonja stated, “Every year Latinos Unidos has an annual conference and every year we change the topic.”
This year, the conference was titled “Rompiendo el Silencio,” which in English means “Breaking the Silence.” The event consisted of three parts. Two were located in Fort Awesome, and the third in the Stood. The sections in Fort Awesome served food to current and future members.
Breakfast was served from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and dinner was served from 6 to 9 p.m. Each meal was held in room 0135 at Fort Awesome, and the Latin jazz band performed at the dinner.
Afterwards, the party in the Stood lasted until 1:30 a.m.
Latinos Unidos organized guest speakers, alumni and faculty, to appear at the event. Three of them spoke in the morning section of the event.
Two featured speakers, Leandro Benmergui and Paula Halperin, are professors of Latin American History at Purchase. Bobby Gonzalez, the author of “The Last Puerto Rican Indian: A Collection Of Dangerous Poetry,” was also present.
The morning section started off slow as the students waited for speakers to arrive. However, the enthusiastic energy of Latinos Unidos built up quickly.
Bobby Gonzalez was first to arrive at the scene. He mingled with students and informed members of unknown facts concerning their Latin roots.”I might as well be lecturing,” Gonzalez joked.
Gonzales spoke about how the young generation should attempt to reconnect with their Latin roots and commented on the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“Where are our next leaders?” asked an audience member.
“Where is the next Caeser Chavez, Malcom X and Martian Luther King Jr.?” Gonzalez asked back. “Well in this movement we are not seeing a leader, we are seeing young people becoming leaders themselves.”
After Gonzalez finished, Professor Halperin gave a presentation on how the stereotypes of Latin Americans in media are forms of colonizations. She gave examples of how the media still stereotypes Latinos and Latinas, even on Spanish speaking networks.
Finally, Professor Benmergui wrapped up the breakfast with the curious question of how to define Latinos, Hispanics, and Latin Americans. Benmergui emphasized how these terms all represent different people, yet we are all connected. “We all eat empanadas and ceviches,” he said.
In Southside Lounge, chairs surrounded three sides of a makeshift stage. Behind the performers were 30 numbered loose-leaf papers taped to the wall. The first paper said “Mayday!” instead of the number one.
Twelve high-energy Purchase students flooded the stage as they ran around in circles yelling out chaotically for the audience to pick a number. Each play was performed at random, and the only order to the chaos was that each numbered paper had the name of its corresponding skit on it.
Following Neo-Futurist form, Red Theater Purchase attempts to show 30 plays in one hour. The artistic director, Billy Manton, warned at the beginning that they would stop at the 60-minute mark and any remaining pieces would never have the opportunity to be shown again.
The first skit, “To Whom It May Concern,” opened the show on a thought-provoking note. One actor kneeled in the center of the stage with a knit beanie, zipped sweatshirt, and skinny jeans. He closed his eyes and held his palms together in prayer. “I don’t know if you’re even listening,” he uncomfortably opened one eye to peek up to the sky, “that’s kind of why I never do this.”
Students sat quietly contemplating the meaning of the skit and what it meant for the rest of the show. The actor prayed and shared some doubts and insecurities, at one point even expressing frustration, asking for any sign that God exists.
At the end he said, “Scene,” and the performers ran back onto the stage in a frenzy before ripping another page off the wall.
The audience could see that there would be controversial topics explored with titles like, “Dear Biological Father,” “UPD Loves U,” and “SUNY Purchase Open Forum.”
“Our motto is ‘ask dangerous questions theatrically,’ and we try to hold up a mirror to show the world what we think about it,” Manton said.
“Many of the stories are direct accounts from the actors lives, like ‘The End of Adventure Time,’ the tale of one member having two strangers have sex in the bed above him. Others are to make a point,” he continued, “like ‘Rule 37’ talking about the hypocrisy of banning blood donation from men who engaged in sex with other men.”
The show was well received and students were clapping and shouting back to the performers. Encouraging interaction added even more to the exuberant energy felt in the room. Acts changed drastically in tone from one to the next so that funnier pieces such as “Liberal Arts Class at Purchase College,” where actors pretended to be students pointing out lesbian undertones in literature were quickly followed by deeper pieces like, “Middy,” where one performer told the true story of her best friend, whom she met online. She proceeded to call her for the first time in front of the crowd.
The Red Theater Collective is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, and its website states that the collective is inspired by American traditions like vaudeville, slam poetry, cinematic realism, and music videos. Red Theater Purchase is a branch of the collective and has one show per semester during the week before finals.
On Sunday, April 26, at 12:50 a.m., Purchase senior Moneace Smith and a friend were approached by UPD Lt. Donnell Charles after exiting The Stood through the entrance. After leaving the area and returning with another friend, Smith was approached a second time by Charles and Officer Jeremy Davis, which resulted in a physical altercation.
Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz has sent out a statement regarding the incident that took place last weekend during Culture Shock involving a student and University Police officers.
“I have received many emails with accounts of what happened at Culture Shock,” Schwarz stated. “To those who have come forward, I thank you for your diligence, I am taking all accounts of the event seriously…I continue to welcome all feedback, either by email or in person. The following is an account of the events based on the police report and several eyewitnesses.”
“Lieutenant Charles attempted to speak with a couple of students,” said Chief Bailey in a later interview, “and the situation escalated which resulted in the arrest of Moneace Smith.”
According to the official report, Smith was arrested by Lt. Charles on charges of disorderly conduct after resisting arrest.
“She offered resistance, and that was met with the appropriate use of force,” Bailey explained. “She was taken to police headquarters, ticketed and released.”
President Schwarz stated in the email that he has not only requested Chief Bailey to conduct a full investigation of the incident, but that he also called upon the SUNY system-wide Office of University Police to conduct a full review of the department.
Bailey is conducting a professional standards investigation that will determine if the force used was appropriate. He also said that the officers involved have given accounts and UPD is looking to speak with witnesses. In addition to the internal investigation, there will be an independent review from the Commissioner of University Police offering an impartial investigation into the actions of the officers.
“As far as what she did exactly and exactly what my officers did,” said Bailey, “I’ve got to speak to her directly and I’ve got to speak to my officers directly, because until I hear it from the horse’s mouth, it’s all just me looking at reports and looking at social-media posts.”
“I think it’s too soon to say it is excessive force,” Chief Bailey said in response to the student claims of Police Brutality and Excessive Force. “I certainly understand recent events and mistrust of the police, and I’m sensitive to that. Just look at the events in Baltimore right now, and it is okay to be angry with the police and it is okay to vent your anger and your frustration. It is not okay to fight with the police, under almost any circumstance.”
Chief Bailey has requested that the officers in question refrain from commenting at this time.
Jordan Syrop, a student photographer, was an active witness to the commotion between the stu-dents and UPD.
“I was taking photos earlier and putting my camera bag away behind the desk of the stood and then out of nowhere I saw a bunch of commotion, some arms fly in the air and everyone started crowding,” Syrop said. “There were about three officers I believe, restraining a black female [Smith] . She would not stop struggling even after the officers had told her to stop at which point an officer pulled out a taser and threatened to taser her if she didn’t comply. The minute that taser came out everyone who was already freaking out (people were crying yelling screaming for them to get off her, some were just watching) went crazy, the crowd literally erupted and I was worried we would have a riot of sorts on our hands. I think the only thing that really kept everyone at bay was the number of state troopers and officers that were surrounding the incident… I don’t know if that many officers were necessary to restrain her or really what she did to deserve that, but I suppose at an event that big you have to squash any potential for things to get out of hand, whether it be fights, rowdiness, or people being straight up belligerent.”
Around 30 students held a protest Tuesday night in the mall and then outside the UPD offices. Smith’s story was told by students who said they had witnessed the arrest and many in attend-ance filed formal complaints with UPD that night.
Senior Toni Wilson said she was at the Stood when it took place, and later at the UPD station when Smith was detained.
“When they were in the Stood, I was already interacting with my own group of friends, and I look to my right and I notice that both of them were in Whitson’s in a very hostile argument with Lt. Charles and police officer Davis,” Wilson said. “So I walked over and I wanted to ask if everything was okay, and he told me to take five steps back. And that’s when [Smith] told him, ‘This is my friend, she can stand here if she wants to,’ and me knowing Lt. Charles I thought okay, he must have the situation under control because every interaction I’ve had with him has been fairly well. So I backed up a little bit and then I turned around for maybe 60 seconds or so, then when I looked back over, I heard a crowd like ‘Oh what’s going on’ and then I turned around and I saw MoMo [Smith] on the floor.”
Further elaborating on her account, Wilson said, “There was one officer that had her neck pinned down so her face was on the ground of the Stood, and the one officer was holding her legs together because she was kicking, saying ‘Pick me up,’ and then one officer was handcuffing her.”
President Schwarz concluded his email by saying he welcomes all feedback on this case. After countless emails requesting more information, he and a small group of students, including Wilson, met on Wednesday to discuss the matter at hand. The results of that meeting have not been officially released.
This article was written in collaboration with reporters and writer from The Beat. Additional writers include: Fallon Godwin-Butler, Allison Hart, and Rachel Weiss. Photography and additional reporting by David Weber.
Synchronicity, emotion, chaos and urgency characterize this performance which featured both beautiful ballet and provoking modern dance pieces.
The opening of “End Aloud,” featured sheer beige dresses flowing around female dancers, and billowing pants of the same shade on male dancers. The illusion of pure skin swiftly and sensually writhing on stage was convincing. They leapt, performed headstands, and held frozen positions in unison while at times, students ran through them, frantically looking around and jumping.
No one in the audience could have left without seeing some contortions they never believed possible. The choreography was unpredictable and included intricate, fluid body movement.
Students in the dance company lifted each other up and pushed each other down, portraying conflict and vulnerability at the same time. They at times longingly reached for one another, and some movements were so slow that through shadows cast from careful lighting, muscles could be seen tensing and releasing.
Both ballet pieces, “Psalm and Concertos” and “The Kiss,” were just as mesmerizing with the dancers in brown attire against a royal blue background that changed to an earthy brown tone. The lights were bright and strings played, bringing light-heartedness and the essence of spring.
Libby Riddick, one of the performers, said, “They are very emotional pieces and there’s a sense of togetherness throughout the cast. It’s wonderful to be moving together with your family.”
“Psalm and Concertos” was followed by a quick change of pace as the same dancers performed a modern dance piece to songs such as “In The Summertime (You Don’t Want My Love)” by Andy Williams and “Rocco” by Giorgio Conte. The piece, “Over/Come,” generated some chuckling from the audience with suggestive dancing and one student, Hannah Straney, standing on a dancer’s back while he lifted himself up to a plank position. She started laughing, seemingly by accident, before bursting out into full hysteria which led her to step off his back in tears.
“At first I thought, is she having a problem?” commented Linda Regius, Straney’s family friend, “She really fooled me at first!” Regius said she hasn’t been to a show in a few years, but after seeing photographs of Straney, she wanted to see her perform live. “It’s a lot different than when I was younger, the modern dance, but it’s beautiful. Just amazing.”
The last piece, “Lux,” was very energetic and the curtains rose to show a black screen with a full moon projected just inches from the floor. Dancers wore all black, leapt across the stage, ran in circles, and reached up into the sky. They fell down to and bounced back up from the floor portraying the resilience and strength human bodies are capable of. The moon rose steadily throughout the performance until it was high above their heads, and students danced joyously as if celebrating the liberation that accompanies the night.
Despite the sheer talent reflected in every facet of the performance, co-director Larry Clark said that the audience was smaller than expected. “This place should be packed! People should be standing in long lines to see this.” He said Culture Shock and a lack of strong advertising were the main reasons. He suggested that arts management students take on marketing conservatory projects to get more people to the shows.
“We are one of the few dance conservatories left in the country,” Clark said proudly. “The diversity of training makes the dancers very versatile and we all work very well together. This isn’t unlike anything you’d see in New York.”
The show ran from April 24th to the 26th.
Bright, huge structures, lit all over the horizon, as the sunsets, there movements were made more erratic. Bodies walking towards and away from the bright lights, each with a smiling face and eager expressions. The loud music and roars of the crowd echoed far past the stood and any other buildings.
It is always nice to have someone new, tell the same story. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect, I’d hear stories of how one famous artist came one year, or how this one group had the night of their lives one year. I wasn’t of drinking age and personally I didn’t feel like drinking. So this isn’t going to be a drunken story that lasts five paragraphs. True under the influence brights the mood, but you can still have fun without drinking.
I went to the pre Shock with friends and saw a band play for a bit, the crowd wasn’t dancing as I expected it to be. I wanted to see people close together and dancing to a fast pace rhythm, of course this was only one of the many I expected at Culture Shock.
Like everyone else I was skeptical of the artist performing, however I was reassured that one artist here might be the next mainstream artist. My friend told me that when she came to visit for Culture Shock a previous year she “touched Iggy Azela’s butt.”
In fact, one the most humorous encounters I had was doing research regarding the freshman’s opinion of the line up, and one student emailed me.
“No one knows or cares about any of the bands chosen to play. Please try harder next year to use the money Chartwells steals from me to pay for music people actually want.”
Clearly most of the students were a bit disappointed in the line up but I had hope, since I was a fond of Indie bands.
The first ride, I rode was the Scat, there I befriended a visitor and had an interesting conversation on what type of drugs the operators would take and if they did, what type of attitude they would have while under the influence. After the rides, I entered the concert stage outside. Amazingly the comedian seemed to hold the crowd even when the weather was freezing. But the weather didn’t stop the crowd from participating in his act. I enjoyed the comedian’s routine he had a style of straight to the punch sex jokes. I always wanted to go to a stand up routine, I love to laugh, and one of the most challenging things I have is showing my sense of humor. I will always respect comedians for actually going there.
Eventually I went inside the Stood to warm up, the first band I attended was at the side stage, the band Tippwerk was playing, with no vocals, just instrumentals. Excellent bass, the crowd head bumped to every chord that was played. No big mosh pit just smooth bass and smooth rock. I stayed the whole time they played, their music was enticing, and mesmerizing.
What made them unique was their sudden change in tempo, of how it would be smooth and then the tempo would be fast paced, the crowd feels the movement of the music. However we didn’t dance like one would expect, we slowly moved to the bass being played, and enjoyed the full rhythm of rock.
After the band was done playing, I returned to the main stage the band playing there had a peculiar centerpiece for their performance. They utilized the screen to give a background info for their music. Honestly I didn’t pay attention to the music or the lyrics, I paid attention to the screen. When I got to the front I saw zebra butts be shown on the screen, most of the crowd enjoyed that the band was able to keep their composure while having that play in the background. The crowd was a different story few snicker from the visuals but no dancing you would expect from last year’s Culture Shock. Some groups were dancing to the rhythm. I respected the music, but it was not something I could dance to. There was something in my body that just couldn’t accept the beats.
I wanted to dance to a funky beat, I respected rock but it didn’t give me a groove to dance to. In the corner of my eye I saw crowds of people coming in and out of the side stage. Some ran inside to be first for something. Immediately once I entered, a rush of heat and technologic songs hit my body. The crowds movements were erratic as expected, each person felt the beat pouring out of the stereos. Bodies pushed together, all moving to a great beat, sudden roars when the artist shifted to a new beat. Every shift the artist made, the crowd got closer to his turntables.
The artist was hunched over the entire performance, he had true devotion to not let the party die out, to keep everyone dancing.
I later found out that the artists was Mndsgn, the crowd grew and grew as we roared louder. I danced to every fresh beat he introduced, eventually I became a part of the crowd. When people entered the room they didn’t see us as individuals enjoying the music, they saw us as the crowd.
We moved every limbs to the otherworldly beats. I let go and just felt the beat overtake my body. I don’t remember how, but I ended up in the front corner dancing without a care in the world. Loads of people behind doing the same thing, dancing. I eventually came to and decided to leave the Stood and crash.
Some might consider my story of the first Culture Shock boring, or not exciting. I understand, but this is what I truly felt when I entered each stage. Maybe I went to boring performances, with little turnout. While out i did look for that hidden gem where their was not a huge crowd but great music.
I became caught up in the music, listening to every tempo, every beat. I heard the stories each note played and for a moment we forget everything. We forget work, we forget why we are here, what we strive for, what we have due. We forget everything and just feel.
On the Main Stage at Culture Shock, the Steve Lehman Trio provided a cool jazz set as an alternative to the rock and rap influenced music usually heard during the annual spring festival. The band consisting of Lehman on saxophone, Linda Oh on upright bass, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums started with a short practice and then jumped right in with the number “Alloy.”
As they continued, more students started coming over nodding their heads in approval and taking pictures with their smart phones, while some sat on the grass near the stage.
“We’re hoping the wind doesn’t take down the whole bandstand,” Lehman jokingly said after the song. The slightly windy, but sunny day helped set the mood for the long, instrumental tracks. They continued with their arrangement of a John Coltrane tune, who Lehman listed as one of his many jazz influences.
“Coltrane, that’s always gonna be a big influence for everybody,” said Leman in a brief interview after the set.
During the next number “Fumba Rebel,” Linda Oh was given a bass solo and was slowly joined by Sorey and Lehman, who were greeted with a round of applause. They closed out with the song “Beyond All Limits.”. After packing up their equipment, the band members came off the Main Stage and chatted with students, who complemented them on the music.
Lehman, who’s been favorably reviewed by NPR and the BBC, enjoyed performing at Purchase and was fortunate for the sunny day.
“The people who were checking it out, seemed like they were finding ways to engage with the music and get something out of it,” said Lehman, who is based in New York City.
“We all freelance in various groups, and this is actually my first time playing with this group,” said Oh in her soft Australian accent after the set.
“For someone who’s not a huge jazz fan, I felt that it was good,” said Joshua Rothafel, a Purchase alum visiting, who noted that the music seemed to have a rock influence.
“It was pretty damn mind blowing, I can’t lie,” said Jaedon Alvira, a jazz studies junior. “The groove was still really there and Steve just tied it all together.”
“It was definitely cold last night,” said Amanda Kuhl, an employee for Talia’s zeppole cart, “but Purchase students, they’ll come out in the freezing cold for zeppoles!”
Kuhl, now 25, has been coming to Purchase to serve students zeppoles at Culture Shock since she was in high school. “I think it’s been at least seven years,” she said stirring a vat of hot oil with fluffy dough balls bobbing around inside.
Maryanna Speduto, another attendant, is working her first Culture Shock at Purchase. Both are from Long Island and are say they are excited to hear the bands play and see the students gathering. “We love Purchase!” Kuhl said.
“I liked it when everyone was in a big open square and the music was near us,” she peeked out of the booth towards the side stage. “They moved it over here instead of down by the huge field; it used to be more fun when we were closer to the bands. But now they have rides!” She shrugged with a smile.
The zeppoles and fried Oreos, tossed in a white paper bag and coated generously with powdered sugar, are undoubtedly delicious pastries for sharing. The zeppoles, hot and doughy when bitten, are sweet and leave powdered sugar everywhere in their wake.
“It’s great advertising!” Kuhl said of sugar dusted clothing, a result of this decadent snack.
With a makeshift photo-shoot set up, “I Dyed at Purchase” used their tent to promote their on-campus presence.
Their mission is “to encourage the everyday person to express themselves through the dying of their hair, even if it’s as simple as dying it a lighter shade of brown,” according to their zine’s mission statement.
Amanda Panzer, one of the students behind “I Dyed at Purchase,” said, “We’re also into wigs and stuff. I love color, color everything!”
Julia Meslener and Kate Wolff, both at the tent, are also involved in the documentation of experimental hair at Purchase. “We have clip-on colored extensions too,” Meslener said, “For people like me who don’t want to dye their hair but want to participate as well.”
They distributed their zine from 2-4 p.m. and took photos of students with dyed hair at their tent, located next to PTV, Planned Parenthood, and the Green Team.
“Every time life gets mundane or you go through a breakup, dye your hair,” the zine advises. “Your hair is such an important part of your personality. If we all had the same hair it would take away so much.”