On Saturday evening, the University of Connecticut’s Asian American Cultural Center hosted its annual “Asian Nite” at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. This two-and-a-half-hour event is a celebration of Pan-Asian culture performed by the university’s student body. Composed of several clubs and organizations under one central umbrella, students performed songs and dances across a wide variety of cultures and decades. With months of training, each group brought its A-game as they showcased songs and dances from their respective cultures.
One of the biggest allures of Asian Nite is just how large the event is overall. Spanning over 10 clubs and organizations, the AsACC organizes all these crews and their acts into a cohesive experience. With representation across the board, everyone is sure to feel welcome and accounted for at the showcase. In addition to performances, there are also valuable lessons on the histories of numerous cultures through dialogues and narratives that occasionally take place. This, coupled with the sheer skill of the performers, makes Asian Nite not just entertaining, but also highly educational.
Through its comedy and performance art, the Asian American student body illustrated their own histories, which captivated audiences. With interesting and colorful clothing and designs passed on through generations of each country’s culture, we saw students embody the stories that they were told as children and young adults. Blends of old and new sounds combined to create a connection between past and present, as students brought forth traditional and more modern ideas into one central theme.
Some clubs took a more traditional route, like the Thai, Lao and Cambodian Student Association with their opening performance. Adorned in dazzling headdresses and colorful bright garments, they told stories of love through dance and traditional music. In contrast, groups like GIF Studio combined traditional and more modern Chinese and Mongolian sounds to create a blend of cultures.
The Filipino Student Association told a story of love through dance and martial arts. Audience members were offered a brilliant display of Filipino Kali as two men fought for the love of one girl. But the FSA wasn’t the only group that brought martial arts to the stage. The UConn Taekwondo Club also popped out with a dazzling performance that combined dance and traditional Korean martial arts.
While only one group sang at this year’s event, the dancing was phenomenal. With fusions of traditional Pan-Asian music and modern pop, many organizations went all out as they brought their best performances and stunned the crowd. Husky Bhangra left audiences hypnotized as they moved through the stage with grace and finesse. Just when the crowd thought that the group couldn’t top themselves, Husky Bhangra managed to go above and beyond. Time and time again they left the audience in awe with their ability to move with such energy, vibrancy and joy. The Korean Student Association also brought a blend of traditional Korean sounds and K-pop front and center for all to enjoy.
With so many groups and organizations that participated, it’s hard for a single article to cover them all. No words can describe the joy on the faces of UConn Surya as they danced to a blend of Bollywood and Western hip-hop sounds.
For Alyssa Maniar, co-captain of the team, “Asian Nite is always a great way for all of our friends and family to see our full set live. The only other times we get to perform our full set are at competitions, which tend to be far from home and not easily accessible for our hometown fans. AsACC does an amazing job organizing the show and making sure that everything runs smoothly! We also love watching other organizations perform, and learning about the types of performance styles that other cultures value.”
Or the beautiful parasols of the Japanese Student Association whirring through the air with grace and beauty. Asian Nite is a testament to the strength and dedication of the Pan-Asian community and their efforts to bring the same cultures they’re proud of to a large audience.
Morgan Xu, a fourth-semester material science major and PAC chair member, was very excited to share the success of the event. “It’s one of the most popular events on campus. We actually sold 1082 tickets with 203 student performers and our nine volunteers. A lot of people want to entertain and have their family see them perform on the big stage. They just want to be able to tell their stories,” Xu said.
Whether you’re a member of the community or not, Asian Nite is meant for everyone — a love letter from across the globe but brought near and dear to the hearts of the audience by students on stage.
“For AsACC it’s been a tradition for 29 years and it’s amazing what it does for the community. Most of that audience were alumni who came back to see students perform. They come back years and years making ‘Asian Nite’ an event AsACC holds very highly,” Xu said.