Students for Asian Awareness at Bucknell (SAAB) hosted the Asian Gala on March 30 in Larison Dining Hall. The gala featured musical, dance, and theatrical performances by both students and University professors. The event, which was themed “Traditions and Mythical Folklore,” was hosted by Huijie Tao ’22 and Xiaoxuan Liu ’22.
“The Asian Gala is a really nice event where Bucknellians are able to share a little about their culture with the rest of the community,” choreographer and performer Aditi Vijayvergia ’21 said.
The University’s Japanese Society performed a unique style of Japanese dance called Yosakoi. This style of dance is highly energetic and combines traditional Japanese movements with modern music. Small wooden clappers are often used, as well as other props. This particular dance featured pink and green umbrellas.
Following this was a popular folk dance from Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand performed by Suphanat Juengprasertsak ’21 and Sinet Kroch ’22. The piece featured continuous, graceful hand movements paired with simple foot movement. At the end of their dance, the two performers invited the audience on stage to learn it.
The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) performed a skit of a popular Vietnamese myth. Traditionally, Vietnamese folklore expresses the duality of man and nature, land and water, sun and rain, or good and evil. These myths also typically explain natural phenomena that often occur around Vietnam, such as monsoons. One such myth is the story of the God of the Mountain and the God of the Sea, which was performed by VSA.
Mindy Zhang ’19 and Jennifer Li ’20 from the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) sang a song called “Big Fish.” This song tells of the myth of a giant fish that lives in the Northern Ocean that has the ability to transform into a giant bird. This myth has inspired movies and it has been epitomized as a tale of longing, love, and sacrifice. Afterward, Miao Mai ’21, who had been training for a little over a year, performed a classical belly dancing routine.
The South Asian Student Association (SASA) performed a skit, followed by a Bollywood dance routine choreographed by Vijayvergia. “I really enjoyed expressing a folk story and excitement for the Indian festival Holi through performing our skit, as well as choreographing and dancing in the Bollywood routine,” Vijayvergia said.
This was followed by Cynthia Chang ’22, also from CSSA, who played the Guzheng, a Chinese instrument used in traditional music. She performed one of the most classical and representative Guzheng songs, “Spring Comes to Lhasa.”
Other songs included a popular Nepali song sung by Spandan Marasini ’21, Nigesh Prajapati ’19, Dikendra Karki ’19, and Shrawak Lama ’22. Sherab Dorji ’22 also sang a piece that was written by an upcoming Bhutan artist whose life was tragically cut short by suicide. This song was dedicated to the love of his life.
Representing the Asian Pacific American Student Association, Brennan Yee ’21 performed two standardized martial art forms. The first form, low fist form, is characterized by sweeping and circular movements. The second, southern fist form, emphasizes extensions and short powerful hand strikes.
The evening closed with Assistant Professor of Economics Shahram Azhar singing a poem entitled “Hun Dekhain Gay,” or “We Shall See” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Azhar said that this poem is “essentially an ode to peace, justice, and a better tomorrow.” It is sung nearly universally throughout Pakistan and India.
“I loved the mix of cultures, as well as the artistic performances of skits, dances, and songs,” audience member Megan Munter ’21 said. “They were not only informative about many Asian traditions but also fun to watch and participate in. Also, the food was delicious.”