Asian Night A Cultural Exhibition

On Saturday night, UMass was promised a trip around Asia filled with many lively and comedic performances.

The sound of beating drums and the entrances of two large lions was an eye-opening welcome. The lions, of course, weren’t real and were instead traditional costumes worn by a pair of people to function as the front and rear of the animal. The Lion Dance, performed by the Boston Group, was a playful one. They weren’t a shy duo as they danced and ate on stage, playing to the crowd.

The night showcased many different student and non-student acts. It was a compilation of the various musical and artistic talents on campus. Several UMass cultural associations were involved, including the South Asian Student Association (SASA), Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) and the Taiwanese Student Association (TSA).

Dancers lit up the stage floor with several dynamic acts. The dance group Mass Masti from SASA performed traditional bhangra and modern hip-hop dances. Their name itself comes form a Hindu term meaning “fun, carefree, and playful.” VSA members presented their own dance as well, performing a customary hat and ribbon dance. A traditional Chinese dance, “Dunhuang Fairy,” was elegantly performed by student Alyssa Young. Stepping and Korean hip-hop dancing were also well incorporated into the show by the sisters of Sigma Psi Zeta and a Korean dance group.

Chinese pop singing and Korean rap were also included in the show. Songs were performed by students Sang-Jin Nam, Will Wong, Zoe Zhou, Wayne Park and Mimi Cai, all of whom received a rock-star ovation.

Though singers and dancers comprised the majority of the night’s entertainment, other acts such as the UMass Tae Kwon Do club and the Chinese Wushu Research Institute were on hand to show off their martial arts skills. Board-breaking demonstrations, choreographed fights and weapon exhibitions left the audience in awe. Although some demonstrations took more than one attempt, the crowd cheered the participants to success.

Special guest performer Heather Park was the real star of the show, stealing the spotlight with her soulful voice and entertaining the crowd with songs from her debut album “Dream in Pictures.” At one point during her set, she attempted to involve the audience with clapping to prove that “Asians have rhythm.” Spoken word artist John Nguyen made a nervous appearance, but gave an adequate performance when delivering a few of his written pieces.

Two comedic movie trailers by Gary Mei were the most amusing elements of the show. “Pre-Med: The Movie” was a mix of Matrix-style fighting and pre-med horrors combined in a hilarious fashion. Cheesy college humor never fails to rally up laughter in a crowd.

The masters and mistresses of ceremony also made attempts at humor. Most of the time, they had those in attendance laughing to the point of tears. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air dance imitation was particularly entertaining.

The night ended with a fashion show organized by TSA. Flashy clothing with roots in traditional and modern styles was enthusiastically modeled by students in the five-college community. Clothing from many different Asian countries was flaunted. The fashion show was a well-chosen conclusion to a night devoted to celebrating diversity within the local Asian community.

Overall, the night was an engaging cultural experience. Five-college students were able to showcase their diverse backgrounds and the various ethnicities. It’s always worth getting to know the world beyond the confines of UMass.

Christina Fong can be reached at [email protected]