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In celebration of the Lunar New Year, the Asian American Student Association presents our annual Lunar New Year Festival! 2020's LNYF featured over 350 student performers and 21 different acts, as well as our first art exhibition.

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Fairy Tales

Traditionally, each LNYF has a theme inspired by the Chinese zodiac. 2020 is the Year of the Rat. Influenced by the Disney-Pixar movie Ratatouille, the title of this year's show was A Recipe for Success. The theme of this year's LNYF was the interaction between culture and success: what role does our cultural background play in defining, limiting, or expanding our potential for success?

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Hula is an ancient Polynesian dance form that originated in the Hawaiian Islands. The dance comprises of two primary forms, Hula ‘Auana and Hula Kahiko.‘Auana is a more Westernized form of dance featuring modern instruments such as the ukulele. It’s often portrayed in media as sensual and rhythmic, featuring coconut-clad dancers and radio-friendly music. Kahiko is the more traditional form of Hula dance. It was a temple dance performed by young men and women in order to communicate with the gods. Our performance will incorporate both these styles into our dance in celebration of Hawaiian culture while telling a story!

Ori Tahiti (literally translated as “Tahitian dance”) connects artistic movement with the oral tradition of Polynesian culture. During ancient Polynesian times, Ori Tahiti was linked to all aspects of Tahitians’ lives. Dance was used as a way to celebrate happiness, welcome visitors, pray to deities, challenge enemies, woo potential mates, and more! Tahitian hula incorporates fast hip shaking with flowing hand and foot movements. Colorful costumes, dramatic dancing, and thunderous percussion have made Tahitian Hula popular in other countries.

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Sayaw sa Bangko

Sayaw sa Bangko, literally translating to "dance on a bench," brings drama to new heights as dancers twirl, jump, and lift each other in increasingly dangerous feats on benches stacked higher and higher. This is a team dance in every sense-- not only does every lift and jump demand trust between each dancer and their partner, but the entire group must work like a well-oiled machine as the stakes (and the benches) get higher. With commitment and daring, you'll get to heights you never imagined. How much can you bench?

Sayaw sa Bangko is believed to have originated from the Pangasinan region of the Philippines before Spanish colonization. It is often performed at town fiestas.

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Hip Hop

Hip hop dance originated as a complement to hip hop music in the late 1960’s in the US, particularly in New York and California. It became more widely known after the first professional street-based dance crews formed in the 1970’s. Since then, hip hop dance has spread internationally and has evolved to not only include breaking, locking, and popping but also funk style dances (think the Running Man and the Cabbage Patch).

Because hip hop began without a formal process, LNYF hip hop seeks to emphasize creativity and free-styling while attempting to showcase the contribution to hip hop music and choreography culture made by Asian and Asian-American artists. Most importantly, we hope that by the end of it all, we look like a crew/LNYFam.

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SingKil & Tinikling

Tinikling is a traditional Philippine dance, where half of the group jumps through long bamboo sticks and half claps those sticks together as the dancers jump in and out. The dance simulates birds jumping through grass stems. The movement of the bamboo sticks progressively increases in tempo, showing how talented the dancers are, matching the pace of the clapping.

“My favorite part about Tinikling, is how connected it is the entire time. You’re always relying on everyone else to do exactly what you expect them to do. It can look impossible at first, but the key is just to make sure you do your individual part correctly, and trust that everyone else will do the same.” - Scott Rogers, Co-Choreographer

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Praise Movement

Praise Movement is an art-form that blends dancing, acting, and storytelling to offer a form of worship unto God. The primary purpose of Praise Movement is to bring people of all different backgrounds, experiences, and abilities together to depict the the life-changing story of the Gospel. Performed by Vanderbilt's InterVarsity Asian American Christian Fellowship and several other members of the Vanderbilt community, Praise Movement is an inclusive experience that seeks to creatively show the beauty, struggle, and importance of the Gospel narrative. We've made this dance completely audition-free to emphasize the fact that this experience is open to any and every Vanderbilt student that wants to tell a meaningful story!

"What I found most rewarding about Praise Movement was being able to build and support a community among people with different beliefs. Some believe in the Christian faith, and others don't, but in the end, what brings us together as a family is the common desire to put on a meaningful story and share it with the Vanderbilt community. I've loved seeing that community and those friendships extend even after LNYF is over." - Joyce Hwang, Choreographer 2015-2016

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Martial Arts

For millennia, martial arts has been an integral part of many cultures, particularly in Asia. Much like language, each style of fighting has evolved over history and is unique to its original region. This act is a glimpse of that story, containing elements of taekwondo, silat, changquan, and more. In addition to group choreography, our performance will also include board breaking and weapons.

In the context of the LNYF showcase, martial arts emphasizes teamwork and family. It is an opportunity to meet people all over campus and collaboratively create a performance that we all take pride in. Each person has their moment to shine and contribute to the act. Martial arts welcomes people from from all experience levels, especially beginners, and prioritizes safety. We hope that everyone walks away with new knowledge and skills and a new amazing group of friends.

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Soran Bushi

Sōran Bushi (ソーラン節) is a traditional folk song (min’yō 民謡) with longstanding cultural value. Originating as a work song among migrant fisherman traveling to Hokkaido, the sea shanty was used to re-energize the hard-working fishermen while they transferred herrings from drift nets to small boats. While the iconic “calls” of Sōran Bushi have no direct translation, “dokkoisho” (ドッコイショ) and “sōran” (ソーラン) are akin to “heave ho” and are used to keep time and coordinate movements.

Today, Sōran Bushi lives on in the many routines performed by dancing groups and schools in festivals. The animated dance moves commonly illustrate the movement of waves, net-pulling, and other fisherman related actions. Performances are often accompanied with singer Takio Ito’s musical track of Sōran Bushi. Takio Ito, originally from the Hokkaido region who grew up with his fisherman father singing the work song, was inspired to record his own modern track.

Sōran Bushi is a powerful, exciting song and dance that joins people together to appreciate hard work and community. As Ito aptly puts it, "One of the points of min’yō is the call and response vocals. That can help make you feel at one with the people you’re with."

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K-POP dances encompass artistic expressions of a wide range of concepts and genres. Songs and dances range from fun and cute to powerful and sexy. Although it's part of mainstream South Korean culture, K-POP is quickly becoming a global music genre known for its catchy tunes, unique choreography, and visual aesthetics.

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Malaysian Fusion

This year, Malaysian Fusion aims to present a cultural experience that spans acrosscenturies of Malaysian history. With the combination of Tarian Lilin (Candle Dance), Bujang Ganong, Javanese-styled movements, Zapin, and Endang, Malaysian Fusion hopes to tell the story of cultural dances development in Malaysia.

Starting off with Tarian Lilin (Candle Dance), where dancers perform while holding plates with candles on the them. The dance starts with “sembah” (the act of putting hands together in a prayer-like manner to convey greetings with respect), and continues with graceful and mesmerizing movements. The dance then transitions to Bujang Ganong, a character who is strong, energetic, and considered mystical. Ending the dance is the Fusion part of Malaysian Fusion, consisting of Javanese-styled movements, Zapin, and Endang. Zapin is a dance with strong leg movements, while Endang creates beautiful patterns with graceful hand movements.

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부채춤, or Buchaechum, is a Korean fan dance believed to have originated from shamans performing nature rites with leaves. It has since evolved into one of the most highly refined of Korean dances, with the fans thought to expel evil and bring prosperity. The fans used in this performance are handmade from Korea, and depict pink peony blossoms. The graceful and precise movements by many dancers at once are meant to evoke natural phenomena and recall blooming trees, flowers, and waves. With poise and beauty, the unity between the dancers allows them to coordinate formations that embody exquisite elegance.

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Chinese Ribbon and Fan Dance

Ribbon and fan dance is a combination of two traditional Chinese dances. Ribbon dance was first recorded in the Han Dynasty and ribbons are used as a symbol of sleeves. It is said that ribbon dance was created in memory of a historical figure who protected his emperor from the sword by his sleeve. Fan dance also originated from Han Dynasty, and has been historically categorized as civilian and military. Therefore, you may see fans representing weapons sometimes or showing gracefulness. In our dance, we will use long silky ribbons and fans with long veils to dance to the rhythm, combining tradition dance with modern movements.

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The water sleeves dance is one of the many kinds of Chinese classical dance that rooted in the rich history of China for over 5,000 years. Originated to be a form of tributes for the ancient Chinese emperors, the dance was designed to be very graceful and flowing. As it evolved throughout the course of social and cultural development, elements of the water sleeves dance had been taken into Chinese classical opera and even in combination with martial arts. This year, we hope to present you the very original version of water sleeves from Han and Tang dynasty, creating a both graceful and powerful dance.

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Senior Dance

Senior Dance is a celebration for the whole senior class - a celebration of the ups AND the downs and everything in between that we’ve experienced over the last 4 years. But more importantly, it’s a celebration of all the growth and change that have shaped us into who we are now! It’s a chance for us to join together as one class and community in sending us off into the next exciting chapter of our lives.


The haka is a traditional war dance performed by the indigenous Mãori people of New Zealand. The dance is fearsome, and warriors would perform the dance before going into battle as a superstition and a means to inspire fear in their opponents. Today, the dance is most notably known for its performance by the New Zealand "All Blacks" national rugby team before every match.