By MADELINE McDONALD
The University of Mary Washington was treated to Taste of Asia, an annual celebration of Asian culture. This year’s theme was “Hidden Treasures: Exploring the Arts,” an idea that Cedric Rucker, dean of student life, came up with.
A lot of planning and preparation went into this year’s show, which was held on Friday, Nov. 2. Gina Noh, junior geography major and president of the Asian Student Association, began preparing for Taste of Asia in May.
“Things were just a bit crazy. The difficult aspect for me was psychologically calming myself down to realize that I was in control and that my team and I were doing just fine,” Noh said. “This was especially difficult during the actual week of Taste of Asia, with two days of school missed due to Hurricane Sandy, and two exams and a lab report due on Taste of Asia day.”
Hurricane Sandy ended up cancelling two other events the ASA had planned for earlier in the week, but this did not deter from Taste of Asia. The event proved to be a cheerful, colorful show filled with many creative performances. UMW received its very own Bollywood story and Chinese language students performed their own rap song, “Let’s Speak Chinese.”
Students also showcased their own creativity. Abir Ibrahim, a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in biology, Radwan Jarrar, a junior majoring in international relations and Hassan Avant, a sophomore at Germanna Community College, recited poetry written by Ibrahim.
Musical instruments were also featured in the show. Senior and business administration major Vincent Ho played a song on the urhu, and another participant performed “Fishing Boats Returning at Night” on the Chinese zither, a large, wooden string instrument that she plucked with her fingertips.
Possibly the most fantastic feat of the evening was the demonstration from the Laughing Dragon Kung Fu Academy of Charlottesville, Va. Their performance began with a dance between two huge dragon puppets controlled by four puppeteers who served as legs for the shimmering gold and red beasts.
They swayed, stomped and danced across the stage to the beat of a drum, bobbing their enormous heads and blinking their eyes. At one point, the puppeteers controlling the heads leaped up onto their partners shoulders, simulating the dragons standing on their hind legs.
After this, the students from the academy demonstrated their skills, using various weapons and their own fists and feet. This portion of the show quickly became repetitive, but it was nonetheless fascinating to watch someone jump gracefully across the stage swinging a huge sword or spinning knives in their hands.
Some of UMW’s clubs also performed. Eagle Bhangra jazzed up the Great Hall with an upbeat dance, and the UMW Breakers showed off their moves while the audience cheered. The event culminated in a dance to the popular “Gangnam Style” song, led by Justin Yi, junior biology major and vice president of the ASA.
Despite the weather, Taste of Asia was a glowing celebration of Asian culture that was educational as well as fun. Hopefully, next year’s show will be just as wonderful.