Boomshaka sets audience in motion with 26th annual spring show


Beatrice Villaflor/The Daily Northwestern

Dance, drum and rhythm group Boomshaka performed its 26th spring show Friday and Saturday.

Beatrice Villaflor, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

Spies. Chefs. Robots. Cult members. Train passengers. 

This weekend, Boomshaka members transformed into all those personas and more. The drum, dance and rhythm group performed nearly four sold-out shows at Shanley Pavilion on Friday and Saturday, where it performed its 26th spring showcase, “Set in Motion.” 

Boomshaka is known for using atypical instruments like trash cans and buckets throughout its shows. The group delivered intense, beat-driven performances with these materials for more than an hour and a half. 

The performers also introduced new items that were not used in prior performances. Pans, spoons and forks were part of a performance partly inspired by the movie “The Menu” called “Yes, Chef!” that surprised attendee and McCormick fifth-year Chima Aharanwa. 

“(The performances) were all really good. I have to say the chef one, cooking up and stuff, the way that they use spoons and forks and utensils and stuff in a unique way is really interesting to me,” Aharanwa said. 

Aharanwa said Boomshaka’s strong presence on campus reminded him of The Chicago Bucket Boys, which was a “call back to home” for the Chicago native. The Chicago Bucket Boys is a group known for drumming music on overturned buckets, similar to the percussion used by Boomshaka. 

Tonal shifts kept the show diverse in sound and style. From EDM-fuelled set “Shockwaves” to breakup-inspired “Recipe for Moving On,” Boomshaka displayed a range of dance styles from contemporary to tap. Likewise, rhythms were made using every part of members’ bodies from head to toe. 

“Shockwaves” was “Set in Motion” co-Executive Producer and Weinberg senior Harrison Israel’s favorite piece due to the different drumstick tricks done within the song. 

“It definitely took a while to put together because there are so many moving parts, but doing it onstage feels really cool,” Israel said. 

“Moving parts” is no overstatement. Each performance featured a costume and lighting change to match the next piece’s theme. In one moment, the group pressed itself against mesh playing on buckets for the set; in the next, members were in flannels playing melodies on washboards. 

“Set in Motion” was Weinberg freshman Annika Macy’s first time seeing a Boomshaka show. She said she attended the show not knowing what to expect, but after seeing Act I of the show, she was excited to see more from the group.

“I love the flipping of the sticks,” Macy said. “The drums are so cool — I could never do that, so it’s super amazing.”

Macy also liked the dance to Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness,” one of the many popular songs highlighted throughout the set.

“Beggin’” by Måneskin, “Shut Up And Drive” by Rihanna and a medley of songs from Disney Channel Original Movies like “Bet On It” and “The Climb” were some of the most recognizable songs within the performance.

“It’s Not You, It’s Me,” set to “Me and Your Mama” by Childish Gambino, was Boomshaka member and McCormick senior Nathan Arnold’s favorite piece to perform in the show.  

Since the start of Winter Quarter, Arnold put in 11 hours every week to rehearse for the show. The demanding schedule creates a bond between Boomshaka’s members, he said. 

“These aren’t just people I’m gonna see for these four years and never again — these are people that I know that I will be friends with for the rest of my life,” Arnold said. 

As a graduating senior, the spring show is Arnold’s last performance with Boomshaka after three years of membership in the group. Still, his connection with the troupe will not end, he said.

Israel, also graduating this quarter, said he was “both parts proud and sad” about seeing the final product of “Set in Motion” come to life.

Israel and his co-executive producer, Bienen junior Audrey Marx, deliberated on which ideas to stage since Winter Quarter. He added that it was a privilege to be able to watch new members grow and see others write their own pieces. 

“I remember the seniors that were there when I was a freshman who helped me out and led me along the way that first year,” Israel said. “It’s been an honor to be able to do that for our new members.” 

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Twitter: @beatricedvilla

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