The lights in Kendall Hall’s Auditorium dimmed at exactly 7 p.m. on Saturday and the packed hall immediately became silent. Adrien Ong, president of Asian American Association (AAA) and senior nursing major, took the stage and explained to the audience that this was the second time since 2001 that the group’s program Mystique started on time.
This year’s event, titled “Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Lands, the Myths, the Legends,” would have been worth a wait, however.
Set in the Forbidden City, the 14th annual Mystique focused on the gifts and stories brought by travelers to China.
The presentation was coordinated by Chamberlain Ming, played by Irene Ning, sophomore secondary education/physics major, and included stories brought by Sean Hickey, junior English major, as a traveling bard; Melissa Lim, freshman international business major, as Mei, a governor’s daughter; Jon King, junior psychology major, as Captain Avery Wilcox; and James Huynh, sophomore history major, as a delusional, drunk old man.
The audience, acting as the Emperor of China, was treated to singing, dancing and other performances by AAA and its co-sponsors, the Indian Student Association, the Japanese Club and the Chinese Culture Club.
Genghis Tan, junior secondary education/English major, served as this year’s Mystique coordinator and acknowledged the difficulty of having so many groups come together to form such a large performance.
“The hardest part planning was making sure that everyone knew what they were doing to make all the pieces fit together,” Tan said. “At times, it felt like people didn’t know where to go or when to start, but in the end, we did it without a hitch.”
The performance seemed flawless, from the intricate and fast-paced Taiko drumming from Japan to the Filipino folk dance Tinikling, both of which were audience favorites.
The Chinese yo-yo act, by Ong, Eric Lin, junior biology major, and Chris Cheng, freshman business major, fascinated the audience – although it was dismissed by Captain Avery Wilcox as “grown men playing with a child’s toy.”
“I really liked (the show),” Laurie Cucco, sophomore nursing major, said. “It was very exciting, entertaining and fun. My favorite parts were the Chinese yo-yos, Taiko drumming and the Tinikling. I really enjoyed it.”
A special performance by Saathiya, the College’s South Asian dance troupe, was also a hit with the “Emperor.” Utilizing a combination of the Indian dance styles Garba, Bhangra and Bharat Natyam and Hip-Hop, the dancers portrayed Barbie, Transformers and Super Mario and Luigi.
AAA and its co-sponsors put in hours of work to accomplish such an impressive result. According to Ong, practices began in November and increased after the performers returned from Winter Break.
The practices typically lasted one to two hours and occurred two to three times a week for every act. All their hard work definitely paid off, as the floor of the auditorium was full and there was a large group of people in the balcony.
“My favorite part of Mystique is seeing the faces of a 600-plus crowd light up and react to the amazing feats our students accomplish and perform on stage,” Ong said.
Tan agreed. “I’m very glad to see all my friends and the families that came out to support us in this endeavor,” he said.
“This year, we reached for the stars in both theme as well as execution, and I’m so glad to see that it was worth every second of sweat,” Tan said.
Tan went on to say that he heard from many people that this year’s Mystique was the best one ever.
“I’m still too doubtful to agree,” he said, “but there definitely was a lot of planning as well as dreams for this one. So, maybe people do have it right. It might possibly have been quite amazing . I was on the sidelines most of the time.”
Ong also said that he heard from many that the 14th show surpassed all the rest. When talking to Mystique alumni from 1999, one told Ong that this year was the best Mystique she had ever seen and that she will never forget it. Ong personally agrees that Mystique gets better every year and that this one is the best he has experienced.
So what’s in store for next year?
“We’re so recently done with this year’s that most of us are too frazzled to think about next year’s,” Tan said. “We’ve definitely set ourselves a huge bar to overcome.”
Tan continued, “Also, I’m going to leave it up to the heir to the Mystique coordinator position to work on next year. There will definitely be a lot of work put into next year’s . just not now. Typical college procrastination.”