‘Mystique’ of Eastern entertainment draws crowd

There’s no better way to learn about different cultures then by actually experiencing them. The Asian American Association (AAA) had this in mind as they put together the 11th annual Mystique of the East, which proved to be not only a night of entertainment, but also an opportunity to learn about Asian culture for all those in attendance.

AAA’s Mystique of the East, its biggest event of the year, was presented last Saturday night in Kendall Hall in front of more than 800 people. After months of preparation, it kicked off with a showcase of the flags of the countries that would be represented in the show: Korea, Vietnam, India, China and the Philippines.

When Sneha Gandhi, president of AAA, and Shilpa Ramjee, Mystique Coordinator welcomed everyone by expressing their thanks to all those who supported their project and warned the audience members that they were in for one incredible evening, they weren’t lying.

From dancing and singing to martial arts performances and yo-yo tricks, Mystique showcased the talents of the members of AAA and represented the different cultures that make up the Asian continent.

From the moment the first performers hit the stage, the entertainment never stopped. The first act, Tharas, was a dance that combined two different Indian styles, Bharatnatyam and Kathak. The dancers wore white costumes and bells that jingled as they moved through expressive hand and body motions. The performers’ enthusiasm was visible in their faces and contagious to the audience.

“I really liked how this act was done,” Nancy Chiang, freshman chemistry major, said. “I enjoyed the bell sounds and how it was choreographed with a lot of variety.”

Two other audience dance favorites were the Bhangra and Hip Hop mix and the Singkil. The Bhangra and Hip Hop is a mix of traditional Indian and modern dance that showed how two different styles can go together. The combination of different dance elements received cheers from the audience.

The Singkil is a Filipino dance that tells the story of a young Muslim princess lost in a forest. The dancers wore bells around their ankles and made intricate foot movements between bamboo sticks.

“My favorite was the Singkil,” Meridith Carter, freshman international studies major, said. “I liked the dancing and how they went in and around the sticks. Visually it looked really great, as well as challenging.”

Other dance performances included the Mahive, a dance from a Hindi film, “Fire, Wind, Water,” which represented the different elements, a Chinese Ribbon dance and the Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, which depicted the different stages a couple must go through in India before their marriage.

The House Special, a skit about culture clash, proved to be another audience favorite. The skit humorously played off what happened when an Indian girl introduced her “not so Indian” fianc? to her parents, including everything from the proposal to the moment the parents tried to set up their engaged daughter with an Indian waiter in front of her boyfriend.

Music and special talents also graced Kendall Hall. Performers took to the stage to sing songs from “Miss Saigon,” as well as original compositions and a percussion ensemble that played Korean drum beats.

A martial arts demonstration featured Kata, a practice that demonstrated the mastery of the art, in addition to board-breaking. Finally, the Chinese yo-yo demonstration left the audience amazed by the skill required to perform tricks with the ancient toy.

Mystique also included two fashion shows. The first one displayed traditional Asian designs in bright colors and floral prints.

The second had a more modern aspect, featuring the members of AAA in Asian-inspired prints dancing to Usher’s “Yeah!”

The members of AAA couldn’t have been happier with the way the show went.

“After four years, I have to say this is the best show I have been involved with,” performer Kuber Bhalla, senior computer science major, said.

AAA President Sneha Gandhi agreed.

“I’m so relieved everything went so well,” she said. “This was an absolutely great night. It’s definitely worth all the work that we put into it.”

Mystique of the East proved to be an enjoyable evening for all, as the members of AAA educated others about their culture as they celebrated it themselves.