Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

VSA brings Vietnamese lion dancing to the FAC

Most of us associate lion dancing with Chinese culture, expecting to see the fuzzy lion heads bobbing around in parades celebrating Chinese New Year.

However, lion dancing is also in integral part of Vietnamese culture, and has developed its own style in Vietnam.

The dance is often confused with dragon dancing, in which many dancers ‘- often as many as 12 ‘- hold up a cloth dragon with poles and wave it about.

In lion dancing, there are only two dancers, and they hold the lion costume up with their bodies instead of poles.Each dancer wears shaggy pants to act as the lion’s legs; one dancer holds the heavy lion head while the other holds up the back end.

The lion dance was thought to ward off evil spirits.

Although the dance is usually performed at traditional festivals, including the festival of the Lunar new year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) will be lion dancing this Saturday, Feb. 21, in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall.

The VSA at the University of Massachusetts says, ‘We are a non-profit organization run by students for the students.’ The groups tries to live up to this statement by offering free events that celebrate Vietnamese culture for students across the UMass campus, whether they are Vietnamese or not.

The group’s most recent offer is ‘Spring of Heritage,’ a celebration of Vietnamese culture that will include not only lion dancing, but also singing, skits and more.

The mixed styles of performance fit with the VSA’s mission statement. It states, ‘The VSA aims to reflect the diverse, vibrant, and dynamic Vietnamese population on campus. ‘hellip; The Vietnamese culture is promoted and examined through ‘hellip; performing arts such as dancing, skits, martial art, while encouraging a multicultural medium.’

The diversity in performance style that will be on display this Saturday reflects the diversity of the Vietnamese population.

Although the group is student-run, it has gone to great lengths to make the event special. It has managed to get the two most recent winners of Miss Vietnam Global to take part in the event: Donna Vo (Miss Vietnam Global 2008) and Jennifer Le (Miss Vietnam Global 2007).

According to the Miss Vietnam Global website, ‘The mission of Miss Vietnam Global is to welcome all beautiful and talented Vietnamese women from around the world and help them find what they were born to do by identifying and strengthening their knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities. Indeed, this is a prestigious opportunity to a mind-broadening experience that welcomes all to learn breath-taking traditions and cultures embedded in the country and people of Vietnam, grow, and become a positive role model.’

Both Vo and Le are from the U.S. Vo is a student from Anaheim, Calif., while Le hails from Washington.The two women will be taking part in ‘Spring of Heritage’ to celebrate and teach others about Vietnamese culture.

The event will also feature Vinh Hua, a Vietnamese-American spoken word artist.

Hua is originally from Boston but now lives in New York City.According to his website, ‘Dorchester taught him [Hau] that love is love, loyalty is loyalty and there’s beauty in even the ugliest situations.And of course how to run really really fast on short legs.’

Hua is the Massachusetts Poetryoutloud Slam Champion and has performed in several large venues, including Madison Square Garden and Washington, D.C.‘s Lincoln Theater.

With these different acts and types of performance, the VSA hopes to create an experience that delves into many facets of Vietnamese culture.

The Vietnamese Student Association’s ‘Spring of Heritage’ will be held at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on Saturday, Feb. 21
from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.Admission is free.

Michelle Fredette can be reached at [email protected].

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