Mystique mixes modern and classic dance

By Emily Solinski
Staff Writer

Providing the College with a compilation of acts showcasing Asian culture and heritage, the Mystique of the East production was held on the evening of Saturday, April 23, in Kendall Hall.

Encompassing 14 different acts stemming from a variety of Asian cultures, this year’s Mystique of the East was styled in the theme of “The Hunger Games,” with each “district,” or act, bringing its own talent to the stage. The districts included performances from TCNJ Taiko, Maglalatik, Sher Bhangra, TCNJ Jiva, Tinikling and TCNJ Saathiya, among others.

Organized by the TCNJ Asian American Association, Mystique of the East has been in production for the last 24 years. As such, it the largest student-run culture show here at the College, according to a note from the chairs who worked on  the event’s production.

From drumming to dancing to rapping, each performance displayed its own distinct flare from various Asian cultures.

Donning coconut shells tops, the male dancers of Maglalatik presented a traditional Filipino war dance. The group incorporated the practice of hitting the shells against one another to create a fast-paced beat, which is a signature aspect of the customary dance. By simultaneously working contemporary hip-hop songs into the act, the performers were able to connect their culture to that of modern day.

The event includes both musical and dance performances. (Heiner Fallas / Photo Assistant)
The event includes both musical and dance performances. (Heiner Fallas / Photo Assistant)

“Believe it or not, we only put about three hours into choreography and practicing our routine,” said Dave Nacianceno, junior finance major and the act leader for the group Maglalatik. “Our act has a lot of comedic elements in it, so we actually prefer it to not be extremely polished — it adds to the effect.”

The comedic elements incorporated into the performance elicited laughter from the audience, as dancers added modern moves, like the whip, to the traditional dances.

Keeping to more of a traditional routine was TCNJ Taiko, a Japanese drumming ensemble formed at the College in Fall 2007. The group performed during the opening and closing acts of the show.

TCNJ Taiko opened with a fun and energetic piece and closed their act with a more powerful piece titled “Ikusa,” which depicts the hostility seen in battle, according to the show’s playbill.

The show included a variety of other talents, from a Korean hip-hop solo to a fashion show featuring clothing from Asian cultures including those of China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Pakistan and India.

Collaboration within the Pan-Asian Alliance provided the opportunity for the various clubs to come together to form the Mystique of the East production, which successfully blended Asian cultures together in an way entertaining to all students who attended.