2019 Festival of Nations

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To mark the beginning of March, the annual Festival of Nations performance took place on March 1st and 2nd, gathering students, parents, and faculty in a celebration of dance and culture. As one of the most anticipated events of the school year, FON attracted sold-out audiences for both the Friday and Saturday night show, as well as a large turnout for the Saturday afternoon performance.

FON is one of those milestone events in Townsend that everyone looks forward to,” said junior Rohan Iyer. “It doesn’t matter if you have no prior dance experience; FON is just a fun way to socialize with your friends in a way most people don’t and try new things.”

Senior Ayanna Cox described her FON experience as a “[great] time for everybody to come together and embrace their cultures and experience others.” She added, “This year, I also liked the fact that it was live-streamed because the people participating in FON (who were in the cafeteria during the show) were able to see it in progress.”

For underclassmen, the experience was especially memorable. Freshman Dylan Budhu said, “It allowed me to meet new people and and I would definitely do it again.” Sophomore Anil Singh explained, “Even though we stayed after school almost every day and sometimes really late, it was all worth it for those two days.”

Sophomore Natalie Villacres shared similar sentiments. “When the actual day of performance finally arrives, all you want to do is go back in time to all of those practices and relive everything all over again,” she said. “It was a really enjoyable experience and I can’t wait for my next two FONs while at Townsend.”

FON leaders recount the hard work that went into the production of the successful performance. Junior Faye Shemper, who co-led Hispanic Traditional and Hispanic Modern, recounted the “immediate surge of work, endless hours of decision-making, and influx of concerns [she]had to deal with on the daily.” Junior Rachel Zheng, who co-led Hawaiian FON, said, “As a leader, I really got to understand just how much hard work and dedication goes into preparing for such a large production.”

Faye continued, “I don’t think I’ve ever faced a more stressful leadership position than this one, and yet I wouldn’t have given it up for the world. The final performance left me speechless upon watching it back, and I really, truly couldn’t be prouder of my dancers.”

Rachel added, “While there were definitely moments of stress, it made me so happy to see how all my peers were committed to putting on a good show.”

Senior Jessica Wang, co-leader of Chinese Fan FON, expressed how much she appreciates the Townsend tradition. “From crazy late practices to bonding with others to changing in 0.2 seconds backstage, this is one of the things I’m going to miss most when I graduate,” she said.

Julia Izak, who graduated last year, commented on coming back for the first time as an alumna. “Going back for the first time and not being on stage was a totally different perspective. It was definitely more exciting to actually get to be in the show, but I was so proud of the girls who continued to lead Polish FON after me. It was clear that they were having so much fun on stage, and that is what it is all about,” she remarked.

“I loved how there was so much enjoyment on everyone’s faces. I also liked how a lot of other cultures branched out into contemporary groups like Chinese Modern FON,” agreed Class of 2018 alum and former Filipino FON leader Justin Butron. He expressed his happiness with Filipino FON, commenting, “I was so happy to see that they included two other traditional Filipino dances in addition to the sticks. Last year, I choreographed the fan dance, a traditional Filipino dance, and I’m so glad they followed in my footsteps and event went a step further.”

Even after four years, Jessica said, “I never get tired of all the energy and excitement that FON brings, and it’s something I’m definitely coming back to visit for.”