Cultural shows aim to increase awareness

BY SOOJUNG CHANG
Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 31, 2003

In case you haven't noticed all of the flyers, many student groups on campus have been holding their annual cultural shows at this time of year.

Just this past weekend, students had the option of attending the Huaren Cultural Show, the Latino Cultural Show, and the Persian Cultural Show. Next Saturday, students will have the opportunity to watch Generation APA, one of the largest pan-Asian cultural shows in the nation.

"It's good to see different groups express themselves," LSA sophomore Jennifer Yang said, who attended Huaren last year and this year, as well as Encompass, a show earlier in the year that incorporate acts from a variety of ethnic groups.

The Huaren Cultural Association held their annual show took last Friday at the Power Center. Huaren's mission is to celebrate the traditional and modern cultures of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

Mien Chyi, a first year medical student, said the show offers students from a variety of Chinese backgrounds to come together.

"If you go back far enough we all came from the mainland originally and this is sort of a way to get back in touch," she said. "I think we're basically honoring the source of all of our traditions even if they've become different in the past 200 or 300 years," Chyi added.

The show this year, titled "Cultural Legacy," opened with "Fei Tian," a traditional dance that Chyi choreographed. It portrayed goddesses of cloud, water, fragrance and music that appear in the 4th to 14th century Buddhist murals at Dunhuang, an ancient city in western China.

Chyi said she first started learning Chinese dancing during her undergraduate years at Harvard University, as an opportunity to learn about her heritage.

"I grew up in Wisconsin so there isn't a huge Asian American presence there and I didn't have really a sense of cultural identity," Chyi said.

Other traditional acts included a traditional plate dance, martial arts and a traditional handkerchief dance.

Engineering freshman Carla Del Vecchio said she enjoys traditional acts such as the plate dance, a dance more than 5,000 years old, in which dancers spin and flip silver plates to classical Chinese music.

"I heard about it from my friend who told us to come watch," she said about the show. "I will definitely go to more (cultural shows) in the future," she added.

The show also featured break dancing, a body worship act, in which performers use American sign language as a way of religious expression, singing acts, a fashion show, martial arts, hip hop dancing, modern dancing and video skits.

LSA sophomore Lisa Lu, part of the 2002-2003 Huaren Core, a group that planned the show, said the modern acts are an important aspect of the show.

"We felt like Asian American culture evolves and it's not purely based on the traditional. "It's always entertaining for the audience when we express modern culture. It shows that we are two sided, traditional and modern," she added.

Lu, along with eight other undergraduate students, spent the past couple months planning acts and looking for choreographers, dancers, lighting directors, among other details of the show.

"It took a lot of planning. I don't think any of us slept in the week before the show and all of us crashed right after," she said.

"It think it's a really rewarding experience, you know starting out from nothing and seeing the final result," she added.

Lu said the short length of the show made it difficult to portray many aspects of China's long history.

"But I think it gives audiences a taste of Chinese culture," she said.