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SEAC’s Ayala entertains for a wonderful cause

By Conor Amrien

Section: Arts

April 8, 2016

On Saturday, April 2, Brandeis’ Southeast Asia Club (SEAC) put on Ayala, their annual show dedicated to Southeast Asian culture. This year’s Ayala was titled “Daya Tahan” and raised money for the Indochina Starfish Foundation, an international charity that provides education for children in Cambodia. It was coordinated by SEAC members Sharon Cai ’18 and Jennifer Sun ’18. The culture show and benefit concert featured a variety of musical and dance performances composed of Brandeis student groups along with Boston College’s Southeast Asian Student Student Association (SEASA) and guest performers The Filharmonic.

The show began with a short film titled “Episode III: Ayala Awakens,” written, produced and filmed by Minh Pham ’16 and starred the members of the SEAC executive board. It revolved around the SEAC members learning how to utilize their superpowers to rescue the flags of the Southeast Asian countries from the forces of evil. It sampled several elements from pop culture, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Avengers, One Punch Man, Shia Labeouf, Pepe the Frog, MapleStory, YuGiOh! and many more. The video had the entire crowd laughing from the first few seconds and was a fantastic way to start the show.

Next up was Boston College’s SEASA performing escrima, a traditional Filipino martial art that uses sticks as weapons, followed by a group dance piece. The escrima fighting was a little chaotic, and the members were not very in-sync with one another, but it did make for an interesting spectacle to watch, especially when the members began stage fighting.

Following SEASA’s performance was Platinum, Brandeis’s only competitive step team. Their routine was powerful and not only were they in tune with each other’s movements, but they managed to created music of their own when it wasn’t present; it was as if they did not need music at all.

Following Platinum was a performance titled “#Flashback_Filipino,” featuring Filipino students Stephanie Anciro ’16, Christine-Carolyn Calimlim ’19 and Julie Ruz ’17. Their performance was first dedicated to singing traditional Filipino songs from their childhood. The songs were beautiful and heartfelt and were followed by a series of lighthearted, high-energy dances, making the crowd chuckle.

The next act was Brandeis Bhangra. Bhangra is an upbeat dance form originally from Punjab, India. Despite only having four members on stage, they easily filled the space, leaping around and maintaining a huge amount of energy. The music and dance were just as colorful as the apparel they were garbed in.

Following a short, 15-minute intermission in which refreshments were served, Stop Motion, one of Brandeis’ dance groups took the stage. The dancing itself was technically complex, and the members were pretty organized for a group so much larger than many of the other dance groups performing. They danced to a mix of hip-hop and techno jams.

After Stop Motion, there was a game of “SEAC Family Feud” hosted by SEAC members in which audience members could compete to answer questions about Southeast Asian culture. The game itself felt gratuitous and did not add much to the overall Ayala experience.

Next up was traditional Filipino tinikling, a dangerous type of traditional dance involving the dancing around of bamboo poles as they are smacked together rhythmically. The slightest loss of rhythm would have caused the dancers pain. I was even more impressed when they blindfolded themselves and still kept rhythm perfectly. The second part of the act consisted of SEAC Members performing a group dance as “N’SEAC.”

The final act of the night, and by far the highlight, was The Filharmonic. A completely Filipino a cappella group consisting of six members who earned fame competing on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” and starring in “Pitch Perfect 2.” They were phenomenal despite only having five of their usual six members. They covered songs including “Chains” by Nick Jonas, “No Diggity” by Blackstreet, “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber and “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. In between songs, member Nico Del Rey put on a mind-blowing display of beatboxing. The Filharmonic managed to get the crowd up and dancing for the final song of the night.

Ayala 2016 managed to bring together traditional and modern elements in a perfect balance to showcase Southeast Asian culture, all while raising money for charity in Cambodia.

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