On Friday, Nov. 4, NAU’s Department of Global Languages and Cultures hosted its annual Global Cabaret in the International Pavilion, where students and staff alike showcased a variety of performances.

The event honored various cultures from around the world through performances in different languages. Songs and poems were performed in French, German and Spanish, and there was also a violin solo by one student and a dance routine performed by two others accompanied by French music. 

As people began to enter the room and take their seats, Michael Rulon, host of the event and associate teaching professor of French and world cinema greeted them. He invited audience members to enjoy refreshments, cheese and crackers, brownies and hot chocolate.

Once everyone was seated, Rulon kickstarted the event with a performance of his own. He said this was because he usually makes his students go first, but that they do not always want to volunteer. 

When explaining the origins of the event, Rulon said the Cabaret has not always existed, rather it used to be an event dedicated solely to theater.

“When I arrived here we had the French Theater Guild,” Rulon said. “The first semester, we did some scenes from French plays, and then I thought, ‘Why don’t we broaden our horizons and include some things other than theater like poetry and music?’ After that, I thought, ‘Why don’t we involve the whole department, why just limit ourselves to French?’” 

Rulon said his inspiration for turning the guild into a Global Cabaret came from fond memories of the cabaret that his high school teacher would put on every year. 

“So in spring 2014, the French Theater Guild put on the first Global Cabaret, and it was such a hit that we decided to make it its own club, and the Guild actually got absorbed by the Global Cabaret.”

After Rolan’s performance, the majority of the other performers were students taking various language classes at NAU, who participated in the event to earn extra credit. 

A student trio of senior Ronald Carter, sophomore Alex Begush and junior Reece Bayliff performed the German song ‘Deutschland’ by Rammstein as part of their German class. 

“It initially started because performing in this meant we got to do one less oral exam,” Bayliff said. “But it turned out to be a really good experience.”

Regarding their song choice, they explained they originally planned to perform something else, but switched due to the difficulty of the song.

“Initially we were going to do ‘99 Luftballons,’” Bayliff said. “But we thought it was too fast for first-year students, so we opted for Deutschland instead because it was slower for us.”

Carter added he was already familiar with the band whose song they selected, which made the performance easier.

“On top of that, I had been listening to Rammstein for about a month prior,” Carter said. “So that definitely helped.”

During the group’s performance, they encountered some slight technical difficulties with their microphones, but they didn’t let this stop them and performed without them.

Begush said this added to their pre-existing nerves.

“We only met for the first time before this to practice,” Begush said. “And it was also incredibly nerve-wracking when the microphones wouldn’t work.”

Despite these slight issues, the group said they really enjoyed performing at the event.

“It would definitely be something I would do again if I wasn’t graduating this semester,” Carter said.

Another group of students performed a German rendition of the Beatles classic, “Let it Be,” while others opted for poetry readings, with some even being originals. 

The performances were not only for audiences to simply listen to. They also included a variety of sing-along opportunities, with audiences being handed out lyric sheets upon arrival. Given the songs were all in foreign languages, the lyric sheets were helpful to audience members unfamiliar with the songs. 

When talking about convincing students to participate in the event, Rulon said they are often very forthcoming and willing to join in.

“It can be quite nerve-wracking,” Rulon said. “But first off, it’s a very friendly environment, and we make sure that students understand that they’re not being judged or made fun of, it’s something that we do for fun, and also they tend to get extra credit for it ... A lot of the students, especially at the upper division, are always looking for new pieces to perform.”

German language lecturer Vicky Vandermale also said she tries to get her students to join in on the cabaret performances.

“I always encourage my students to participate,” Vandermale said. “Just because we’ve been doing this for years, and it’s so much fun.”

She added the event is a great way not only to have fun performing, but also for students to practice the languages they are learning.

“It helps them practice their German in a serious but also fun fashion!” Vandermale said.

Rulon shared this view and said he sees the event as a great way for people to immerse themselves in the subjects they are learning. 

“The whole department has a lot of fun with it,” Rulon said. “It’s a way to experience the cultures that we’re studying a little more hands-on, and to have fun with it.”

The event is recurring, with the department hosting it at least once a semester. In his final statement to the audience, Rulon invited everyone to come again next semester and to contact him if they have any interest in performing themselves.

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