By Ryan Thibodeau
Every year, the Pan Asian Council at the University of Connecticut organizes an evening filled with music and dance that showcases the talents of many student groups.
“We get to invite our family and friends over, and they come, and it’s just a lot of fun over all,” said Kyle Emano, a performer at Asian Nite 2015.
For many, Asian Nite is an important event for students to connect with their roots and share them with the campus at large.
“We just want to spread our culture and show other people what our culture’s all about,” said Emano.
The interest in sharing those roots with the campus is spreading, according to the Vietnamese International Student Affiliation’s President Lynn Nguyen, as more groups from around campus join the event to entertain and educate.
“We’ve seen skits from previous years and we know people know the cities but not the other side, which is like the mountainside and we wanted to showcase that, and JSA, they’ve never done Asian Nite before and they did one of their traditional skits, and I think it was really funny,” said Nguyen.
Unlike the Japanese Student Association, whose skit combined Japanese folklore and elements of modern Japanese culture, UConn Break Dancing’s president Nelson Chalas says that some groups like his own drew inspiration for their act from purely modern experiences.
“It’s actually based on something that is real in the break dance community,” said Chalas. “We were going to R16 which is a very big jam where crews compete and so we got the idea that we can travel around the world getting to Korea, and then we get to Korea, and we represent UConn and USA.”
Fortunately for those who want to get involved in this increasingly popular event, the inclusion of more groups means there’s a demand for more performers.
“Last year we had 8 people doing it, and they were all veterans, and this year we had a lot of new people join the club, and we really wanted to incorporate them in the performance that’s why we had so many people on stage this year and this year we really tried to work hard on adding everyone’s strong moves, we wanted to make it really dynamic and explosive,” said Chalas.
And this explosive style is drawing bigger and bigger crowds, according to many of the performers. Not looking to miss out on this increased visibility, students from the Asian American Cultural Center reminded audiences following intermission of the importance of cultural awareness: in the wake of the Chapel Hill shootings and the attack on Charlie Hebdo offices, it is important to remember that social change starts at an individual level, and awareness of that responsibility is still very relevant.