Annual variety show highlights depth of Asian culture

For the twelfth year, the Asian American Association (AAA) brought a high-energy, colorful combination of sights and sounds to the campus community on April 2 with Mystique of the East.

In this year’s show, Mystique’s correspondents “reported” from the front line of countries across Asia to bring us “fun, singing, dancing, tradition and beauty,” Amardeep Gill, sophomore biology major, said.

The traditional dances and songs were captivating and moving. When Gem Perkins, AAA advisor since Fall 2004, took the stage to sing a Filipino ballad, “Take Away,” she hit and held high notes effortlessly and easily awed the audience.

Two Indian dance routines were showcased, “Shades of Passion” and “Arabian Night,” the latter featuring the talents of the College’s Saathiya dance troupe. Both performances featured rapid footwork and flexibility on behalf of the participants and were definitely crowd favorites.

A demonstration of the Chinese Yo-Yo also drew several bursts of enthusiastic applause by accenting the dexterity of the two performers with their complicated maneuvers. Katrina Wong, senior math elementary education major and AAA President, described it as “absolutely mind-blowing.”

There was also quite a bit of good humor. The dramatization of the founding of the Asian boy band Fresh off the Beat, whose manager was named G-Money, was a hilarious skewering of pop music production. When Adrien, Eric, Kyle, JC and T-Breezy hold their first major performance, right at the College, they even took time out to poke fun at the school with “the best dining and housing options you can get!”

In “Rumble In The Hut,” a skit combining choreographed martial arts with an intriguing gymnastic aspect, a fight began regarding who would consume the last cup of bubble tea – an Asian tea drink that is a mix of tea, milk, sugar and tapioca pearls. The fighting parties flipped, rolled, punched and kicked all in the name of this beverage.

Mystique closed with the Filipino dance routine, Maglalatik, where nine men took the stage dressed in coconuts and played them in a manner similar to castanets. This strange cross between a folk dance of sorts and an awkward ballet was extremely amusing – and probably rather embarrassing for those involved.

When the show concluded almost three hours later, the audience was far from tired. Joseph Cruz, freshman biology and psychology major, performed in the fashion show portion of the program, the “Making of Fresh off the Beat” skit and the “Arabian Night” and Maglalatik dances. “I’m so tired that I should be dead, but the adrenaline kept me going,” Cruz said.

Sharon Soon, senior law and justice major, also modeled in the fashion show and was part of the group in the Chinese Ribbon Dance entitled Love, Love, Love. Her last performance in Mystique was both “very overwhelming (and) very satisfying.” “The response (of the audience) gives us more energy,” she said.

Regarding Mystique, Wong said, “The motivation is to promote Asian cultures and awareness in an energetic, (festive) way.” There was no doubt that the audience’s reception was immensely positive and proved that this goal was accomplished.

Event coordinator, Tanya Mendes, senior elementary education and psychology major, had quite the daunting task of arranging the spectacular production. Much of the credit is given to the performers. “Each year, Mystique of the East is different because of the uniqueness of the participants, who bring a little bit of themselves into the acts,” Mendes said. “In the end, everyone works together to make Mystique what it is.” It was evident to all who watched that the time invested did pay off.

Meredith Carter, sophomore psychology major, enjoyed the entire experience. “I especially love the dances; they’re so much fun to watch,” she said. “I went last year and I am looking forward to next year.”