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More than 1600 students packed into the stands of the Bright-Landry Hockey Center Saturday evening for one of Harvard’s most annually anticipated events, Eleganza MMXXIII: “Rebirth.”
During the three hour show, students across Harvard’s campus came together to celebrate fashion, dance, music, and expression.
On an elevated runway-style platform, the student-run production represented cultures from across the globe. Radically challenging social conventions, especially those pertaining to gender and sexuality, Eleganza transformed the stadium into an immersive, captivating space.
The event drew resounding praise from the student crowd, some of whom traveled from the Boston area or further in order to see the show.
U.K. visiting student Lucia Vives said she had heard “great” things about the show. “It was a once in a lifetime experience here at Harvard,” she said.
Lauren Huions, a student from Columbia University, said she came to support her friend Michelle.
“Eleganza is for a great cause, and I’m so excited to be here,” she said.
“Rebirth” opened with “Scene I: E Pluribus Unum.” Scene directors Aimee R. Howard ’25 and Daylan N. Davis ’25 aimed to create a sense of community on stage that invites a celebration of difference and a spirit of collectivism.
Saskia Fisher ’23 said, “I've never felt so many emotions watching a stage and that energy from the crowd is so contagious.”
Lily B. Roberts ’25 also responded with enthusiasm: “Amy Ojeaburu [the Fashion and Publicity Executive Producer of Eleganza] has done a great job with the show and I love seeing how it’s developed after the past few years,” she said.
In between scenes, BMF Step — the Black Men’s Forum Step team— guest performed.
“BMF Step carried,” said Chelsea P. Baker ’24.
Isabelle C. Montoute ’24 and Isaiah E. Coleman ’23 directed “Scene 2: Ill Intent,” a dance scene featuring hip-hop and street-heavy dance styles.
At intermission, Emilio De Leon ’23 said, “This is the best event I’ve been to in my four years at Harvard.”
Julia S. Casas ’24 said she loved the show: “Everyone is incredibly talented. The outfits are amazing. And I'm just so impressed with all the dancing and the different styles of dance as well,” she said.
Prefrosh Jhansi Bhavsar ’27 described the show as “amazing.”
“It makes me so excited to come to Harvard. And I'm definitely very inspired,” she said.
Eleganza also featured guest performances from Omo Naija X The Wahala Boys and Harvard Bhangra.
Priya Thelapurath ‘24, one of the captains of the Bhangra team, enjoyed watching the other performances when Bhangra wasn’t performing on stage.
“I've seen Eleganza ever since my freshman year. I love it so much so [I’m] really excited to get to be a part of it this year,” she said.
Eleganza MMXXIII: “Rebirth” finally closed with “Scene 3: The Icon,” directed by Isabelle L. Guillaume ’24 and Norah R. Ostin ’25, which pays homage to and celebrates black women, queer and trans people, and others that have helped create the roots of pop culture — especially ballroom culture.
The show concluded to roaring applause and cheering from those crowded around the runway as well as throughout the stadium.
Samantha M. Woolf ’23 shared her amazement of watching Eleganza: “Every time I go to a show like this, I'm just so amazed by the sheer talent of our classmates. They are so incredible,” Woolf said. “These are people sitting next to you in section or maybe dozing off in lecture, but they're just such incredible talent. Amazing show.”
Kaylee Cornelius ‘23 said, “The show was freaking amazing. They did so good. The dancers, the fashion, everything was awesome. They put in so much hard work. It was cool to see it play out.”
Supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond the Harvard community, all proceeds from the 2023 Eleganza show were donated to NEFA, Advancement Project, and AgitArte.
Eleganza, established in 1994, was initially founded 28 years ago under Harvard’s undergraduate cultural production organization, Black C.A.S.T.
The event began as a small fashion show with a mission rooted in redefining beauty and aesthetic style on campus. “Rebirth” has clearly proven that Eleganza has since grown to become one of Harvard’s most annually anticipated events.
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