Students from Taiwan, Philippines and China said they chose to include modern dance in Culture Night to unite cultures, show creativity through dance, and inform people that Asians don’t just focus on traditional dances.
Kammy Hou, a sophomore from Taiwan, said, “Most people think Asian culture is very traditional and they don’t have something new, but … I want people to know that Asian people can do hip hop too.” Hou, who is studying hospitality and tourism management, said their theme went from traditional to modern.
The first dance was I’ll make a man out of you, from Mulan, which represented traditional day Taiwan. Traditional drums is normally used for this song, Hou explained, but they used a water cooler instead of a drum and recorders.
“We thought even if we used other material we still could have a really good show. … We wanted to be creative and have fun.” They also used recorders which children are required to learn in elementary school in Taiwan.
The second dance was a song every student performed from elementary to junior high. Taiwanese students performed the same song and dance every week for about six years as an exercise requirement which started around the 90s. Hou said, “Everyone knows that dance. that’s why we put the hairband and dressed like students because it’s a modernized version of our culture.”
The third dance was disco style, representing old school 80s in Taiwan, but also a period about 10 years-ago when disco became popular in high school again. The last song was Turn Up, a really popular modern song in Taiwan, she explained.
“This was also to show we are Taiwanese,” Hou explained. “Lots of people think we are Chinese … We are Taiwanese, not Chinese.”
Cris Sembrano, a junior from the Philippines, said, “We like to make a story from traditional to modern. … We have three dances from every island in the Philippines and then a modern dance which joins us all together because it’s something we all know.”
For Culture Night, the Filipino chapter performed Ati-Atihan, a song from Aklan, which is in the northern part of the Visayas region, Sinulog, from Cebu, in central Visayas, Panagbenga from Baguio in Luzon, and Budots, a modern Filipino song.
Sembrano, who is studying social work, said using modern music doesn’t mean they will stop playing traditional. “Filipinos are very into modern dance,” he explained. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to throw away our culture. If you love your culture, you’re going to keep it. And you can enjoy other cultures too.”
He said it may take away some significance to the dances, but by using modern songs, they are able to show openness to other cultures.
Yan Li, a freshman from China, said they chose a modern song because they want people to know that China is still progressing.
Li, a psychology major, said some people think China only has a history and no future because TV shows and dramas always talk about their past. She said they are proud of their long history. For their dance, Li explained they wanted to combine their history with modern times to show that Chinese are not only focusing in the past.
She said the traditional dance is about the emperor choosing his wife. In ancient China, a lot of girls dream to become the emperor’s wife. The dance is symbolic of the girls competing and showing themselves to the emperor through dance, she explained.
The modern dance is about a boy choosing to marry a girl. “It’s all about choosing the spouse from ancient times to now,” Li explained. She said they were trying to dress the girls in wedding dresses for the second dance, but they had a small budget so they wore a white skirt instead.