Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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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

40th annual Asian Night highlights on-campus groups, featuring singers Dhruv and REI AMI

The Asian-American Student Association’s largest event puts the spotlight on a multi-faceted on-campus community
Megan Wu

On Saturday, April 13, the Asian-American Student Association hosted their 40th annual Asian Night at the Fine Arts Center (Bromery Center for the Arts). Featuring guest artists Dhruv and REI AMI, the event celebrated various aspects of the Asian diaspora and highlighted numerous student groups on campus.

The 20-member executive board lined up on stage and introduced themselves, followed by speeches congratulating the graduating members of the team. President Jordan Cao, Vice-President Diana Li, Fundraising Coordinator Stanley Chen, Senior Advisor Christopher Tran and Public Relations Chair Kalley Hou were recognized for their efforts and commitment towards the AASA.

The theme of this year’s Asian Night was “Every Fiber of our Being.”

“As the children of immigrants, we often receive an incomplete inheritance,” Vice President Li said. “As a result, we often perceive culture in the way that we missed it, the languages we don’t speak, the traditions that we don’t have,” she added.

Treasurer Manju Kannan continued, “but identity is not something that has to be earned or proved, there is no one definition to being Asian-American.” She asked the audience to “flip their perspective” on their culture: “We want you to appreciate the place that you already occupy [and] that all parts and interpretations of your identity are worth celebrating,” Kannan said.

Throughout the event, AASA executive board members were throwing their newly designed t-shirts into the crowd for free. Before entering, students in the queue could get free merchandise. The first 350 received LINE FRIENDS tote bags.

The night was opened by Fiona Baptiste, who performed a rendition of “Babalik Sa’yo,” a popular Filipino song composed by Moira Dela Torre, a singer-songwriter. Baptiste was accompanied by Julian on the guitar, Dan on the keyboard/piano and Sophia on the drums.

The Vietnamese Dance Movement (VDM) was the second act. Wearing all-white outfits adorned with a pink sash, the first part of their act was an energetic dance performance to Bo Xì Bo by Hoàng Thùy Linh, while the second half was to popular Vietnamese-pop (V-pop) song ‘Em Chỉ Muốn Được Chill (POPPIN’)’ by Mỹ Mỹ and OSAD.

The newly formed Chinese dance troupe Illusions followed VDM. Illusions brings together “a fusion of traditional styles of classical, folk, and ethnic Chinese Dance.”


Illusions performing at Asian Night 2024. By Sara Godbey.

The group had a two-part set, the first featuring a slower, serene dance with cool undertones and intricate hand gestures. The second was more upbeat, featuring red-themed outfits and lighting and the performers using red scarves during the act.

The Bollywood fusion dance group Jazba themed their performance around the film, “Night at the Museum,” starting with an introductory video that named all the characters (including Theodore Roosevelt, Ahkmenrah and the security guards) and set the stage for the story. In their act, the group incorporated various Indian styles of dancing, like Dappankuthu and Bhangra that was contrasted with a western-Indian fusion music mix.

This concluded the first half of the night. The executive board announced their first set of giveaways, which included various gift cards, merchandise bundles and sample kits.

The first guest artist of the night, Korean-singer REI AMI, took the stage. REI AMI performed numerous hit songs during her set, like “Freak,” “RUNAWAY” and “Cherry Chapstick.” She was accompanied by two dancers and a DJ.

During her set, she enthusiastically interacted with the audience, asking them “why were they angry?” and to scream with her. Before performing some of her songs, she even explained the meaning behind them and how her personal experiences shaped her music.

She talked about making mistakes and that it’ll only continue to happen: “As long as you learn from them, you’re solid!” REI AMI said.

After a 10-minute intermission, LA and Boston-based dance group Hush Crew opened the second half of the night. Hush Crew danced to numerous popular Korean-pop (K-pop) songs, including “3D,” by Jungkook and “MONEY,” by Lisa.

The Indian Classical Arts Society (ICAS) started their dance set with “Dance the Night Away,” by Dua Lipa. Combining Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Odissi art forms, the group’s performance consisted of various synchronized movements and complex formations that matched the upbeat music, fusing some of their steps with English beats as well.

Indian Classical Arts Society (ICAS) at Asian Night 2024. By Sara Godbey.

“Performing at UMass events brings me so much joy as I am able to spread my culture across campus while having so much fun,” Uthra Mani said, a performer for ICAS. This is Mani’s second time performing in Asian Night and she looks forward to it every year.

“It’s so exciting to see what other teams perform and the crowd goes wild every time,” Mani said. “My favorite thing about performing is doing the activity I love the most with the most supportive group of people.”

TASC, an Asian diabolo performance group followed ICAS’ act. TASC’s segment highlighted the versatility of diabolo choreography. Members of the group were juggling three or more diabolos at a time, skipping over the string in pairs and even tossed and caught the prop in the air.

The group’s glow in the dark section was the highlight of the night. As the lights dimmed and all the diabolos started to glow, the crowd watched in anticipation as the artists swung the diabolo around the stage. At the end of their act, the entire audience was in awe and gave them a standing ovation.

The penultimate performance of the evening was UMass ALTITUDE, a dance group incorporating various styles of the art. The performers were wearing bright, retro pop-colored outfits as they took over the stage, with smaller sections of the group dancing a set at a time. While hip hop appeared to be the backbone of their dance style, elements of K-pop dancing and jazz were seen as they rounded out their act. Another giveaway that had items like figurines and Red Sox-signed photographs preceded the last performance.

Pop/R&B singer Dhruv Sharma, known by the mononym ‘Dhruv,’ was the concluding act of the night. Opening with ‘Airplane,’ Dhruv sang a variety of songs from his album “rapunzel,” like “retrograde” and “moonlight”

Dhruv thanked the audience for standing. Prior to performing “stable life,” he said, “the next one that we do is depressing, so do with that what you will.”

He ended his act with his most-streamed song, “Double Take,” encouraging the audience to sing with him.

Before dispersing the crowd, the executive board members announced one last giveaway and threw as many t-shirts as they had left into the crowd.

Hashini Ratnatunge, a student at Frontier Regional High School, said she attended the event as the area is predominantly white and she rarely has the chance to see any cultural performances.

“[I’m] really glad I got to come see the show since I could see how people’s cultures were represented through their [acts],” Ratnatunge said.

For Ratnatunge, VDM was one of her favorite performances for their dance style and music choices. “I also really loved ICAS’ performance, it was so creative,” she added.

Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X @Mahidhar_sl.

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