Students choreograph, recite, and model in annual Asia Night performances


Nia Huff and Naomi Yaeger

From a fashion show to Independent Study Presentations, the Upper Division’s (UD) East Wind West Wind’s (EWWW) annual Asia Night served as both a fundraiser and a celebration of Asian culture last Friday evening, Esha Patel (12) said. The event began with a dinner served from six to seven pm, then featured two acts that ran from seven until eight.

Since Asia Night is also a charity event, EWWW hosted a bake sale a few weeks beforehand to raise money, Patel said. This year, they raised between $1500 and $1600 were sent to #StopAAPIHate, an organization dedicated to advancing equity for the Asian-American community, she said. 

The night before the bake sale, EWWW members had a sleepover where they prepared for the next day’s celebrations, Patel said. “We always spend the night before cooking all these fun meals. We made dumplings from scratch, we made samosas, we tried to incorporate everyone’s cultures into it,” she said. “It’s always a lot of fun.”

At the event, Ellen Wang (9) played the flute while Emily Wang (9) accompanied her on piano. “It was fun to learn a piece from my culture and to be able to perform it,” she said. During the event, Emily and Ellen played a song called “The Moon Represents My Heart,” from a popular TV show in China, Ellen said.

Michael Shaari (12) gave a shortened version of his Independent Study on how the three main Japanese religions influence and manifest in Japanese culture. During Asia Night, Shaari focused on how Japanese art demonstrated the tenets of Buddhism, Shintoism, and Confucianism, Shaari said. “In most regions, religion isn’t necessarily a part of everyday life, but in Japan, Shintoism is basically Japanese culture.”.

The event also featured a K-Pop Dance Medley, Daphne Tsai (10) said. The group had to overcome a few challenges the day of the performance, she said. “We had to reassign a lot of stuff since someone got injured,” she said. Nevertheless, the group rose to the challenge and still put on an amazing show.

The dancers only started preparing two weeks before the show, Serena Bai (10) said. “We really put together the entire program in a very short amount of time,” she said. The dancers worked well together, and put on a great performance that celebrated Asian culture, she said.

During the fashion show, participants walked down the stage in a two-by two formation, then formed a V to display their outfits, Rizaa Fazal (10) said. Fazal wore a traditional Pakistani Gharara in the fashion show, she said. “I think there needs to be more South Asian representation, especially within the Asian community, so me and Rani [Ogden (10)] put on South Asian clothing to show off our culture.” 

To start planning for the event, EWWW co-presidents Tomoko Hida (12), Yin Fei (12), and Patel sent out a sign-up form to club members for the specific events at Asia Night, Hida said. “There’s some things that are essential to Asia Night, like the Dance Medley and the Fashion show,” she said. Besides asking people if they wanted to take part in the K-Pop Dance Medley or the Fashion Show, the form allowed club members to sign up for their own performance, play the Taiko Drums, introduce other presenters, or help run the ticket box, Hida said.

UD English Teacher and Co-Advisor of EWWW Jennifer Huang thinks that the students did a lot of the planning. “It is so student-driven. I help with the logistics where I can. We try to do our best to make sure everything is on track, and the timing is right, but a lot of the planning comes from the student leaders,” Huang said.

Sending out the form was only the beginning of the work involved in the event, Hida said. With the help of Fei and Xu, Hida collected Google Drive folders, videos, and recordings while working out logistics for performances, such as finding accompaniment for singers and musicians, she said.

This year’s Asia Night was especially notable as last year, EWWW put together a prerecorded video to be live-streamed for everyone to watch at home, Huang said. While the celebration last year was still good, Huang enjoyed hosting the in-person event and allowing everyone to connect. 

Before the event, attendees had dinner on the Fisher patio, courtesy of the Korean Parents League, the Chinese Family Network, and the HM South Asian Families group, Isa Melián (10) said. “It was nice. It had twinkle lights, it was still bright out, and it was very peaceful. There was a baseball game going on, and everyone was hanging around,” she said.

While Ellen was nervous before her performance, her nerves faded when she got on stage, she said. “It was kind of nerve wracking before, but once the piece starts, then you start to really enjoy it,” Ellen said. “You forget about your nerves because you’re just so in the moment.”

Throughout their performance, the dancers in the K-Pop Dance Medley changed costumes multiple times, Saanvi Sherchan (10) said. “They started out very formal, in button-ups and suit jackets. Then there was an intermission for a while, and they came out again, this time wearing something completely different. It was very colorful and way more casual than the suits,” she said.

During these intermissions, different club members performed short, comical skits, Patel said. “Daphne and Sean [Lee (11)] wrote these very short skits that filled the time while we were shuffling around, trying to get everything in place,” Patel said. “They were very cheesy, but I think they were very effective in getting everyone to laugh.”

The event synthesized old and new Asian culture, Tsai said. “From older practices in Asian culture to new ones like dances, they’re all part of our culture and our community,” she said.

During the fashion show, Fazal liked that the music playing was South Asian, she said. “That little act of just playing a couple of Bollywood hits made me and the other South Asian girls so much happier,” she said.

Huang enjoyed the event, she said. “I had a really good time. It is always a little hectic because it is such a logistically complicated event to put together, but I was really impressed. Just seeing how much the students can get done. I was really impressed with the performances and the attendance was surprisingly high, considering we are still living in a COVID era.”