The Experience Asia opening ceremony went off with a bang, literally, as dancers struck and shook coconuts as part of the traditional Filipino Coconut Dance.
Held on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Brower Student Center and sponsored by the Asian American Association (AAA), it was a preview of upcoming events in Experience Asia, a month-long celebration of Asian-American culture that seeks to raise Asian awareness on campus.
The Coconut Dance kicked off the evening, as male members of AAA strapped numerous coconuts on their bodies and used them as percussion during the dance, which represents a mock battle. One dancer joked, “We usually do this without shirts, but we don’t want to scar you guys. Winter’s coming and we’re all out of shape.”
A few women dancers followed with China’s traditional Umbrella Dance, which involved the twirling of large umbrellas to Chinese music.
During the dances, students watched and applauded as they ate Asian food like samosa and vegetarian egg rolls.
The dance performances concluded with Saathiya, the College’s first South Asian fusion dance group.
“What makes our dance team different is that each of our members has brought with them a unique dance style, ranging from bhangra to Hindi, and classical to hip-hop,” wrote member Joe Cruz, junior biology and psychology major, on the Saathiya Web site, tcnj.edu/~zuniga2/saathiya/main.
Saathiya, which means “life partner,” recently danced at Dance Fusion 2006 at George Washington University, and it performed two of the four parts of that routine at the preview ceremony. The dance, which included Indian music as well as the theme from “Super Mario Brothers,” was met with intense applause by onlookers.
Concluding the night was South Asian hip-hop group P.Nox Productions, which performed two songs as the audience crowded the stage and clapped along, prompting one of the group members to say, “(The College) is really cool. This is a small crowd, but you guys got into it.”
P.Nox consists of five New Jersey residents – Young Pharaoh, P.Nox, Don Revo, G-Deep, Anu “Raagz” Kal and D Goode – who incorporate hip-hop and rap with Asian styles like Punjabi and bhangra.
The opening ceremony was one of nine programs that make up Experience Asia month. Others include a multi-cultural buffet, lectures, game nights and information sessions on Asia.
Events in the next week consist of: a lecture by author and immigrant Da Chen on Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. in the New Library Auditorium; an appearance by comedian Dat Phan, winner of “Last Comic Standing,” on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. in the Mayo Concert Hall; and Banzai!, a night of video games and food hosted by the Japanese Club, on Nov. 11 in the Cromwell Main Lounge at 7 p.m.
P.Nox’s comment on the lack of attendance hit a chord with AAA members, who seemed concerned with the small turnout, which numbered approximately 60, including AAA members.
“It’s hard to get people out here on a Wednesday night,” Adrien Ong, AAA president and senior nursing major, said. “I hope everyone else comes to our events for the rest of the month.”
Laura Walker, junior early childhood education/psychology major, echoed this sentiment: “It would have been way better if more people showed up.”