SEAC honors Southeast Asian cultures in AYALA

March 29, 2018

The Southeast Asia Club (SEAC) held its seventh annual culture show, AYALA, in Levin Ballroom on Saturday, March 24. The night, divided into two main acts, continued to bring up the “back in time” theme, showcased in an introductory video titled “Masa Lalu,” meaning “past” in Malay. At various points, e-board members would return to their roles in the video as children and teenagers, and come into contact with emcees Abby Berkower ’20 and Jonah Nguyen ’21, who would then bring the performance and audience back to present day. Sponsored by Brandeis Pluralism Alliance (BPA), all proceeds from the show will go to Project HOPE, an international organization that provides medical training, healthcare education and medical supplies over 35 countries.

The highlight of the show was a performance of acoustic covers from Youtubers Jason and Justin Rod, who are commonly known as the JRodTwins. The JRodTwins sang covers to five songs, including a clean version to Bazzi’s “Mine.” The audience was especially thrilled to learn they were among the first people to hear the pair’s cover of “Mine,” since the cover has yet to be posted on YouTube. Three of the five songs they sang were from Asian artists—one song was in Vietnamese and the other two, “Last Dance” and “Beautiful Life” were by K-pop artists Big Bang and Crush, respectively. Jason and Justin cite K-pop as an inspiration for their music careers, as k-pop is one of the few Asian pop-cultural movements to become successful outside of their home countries. This representation was significant to them, they explained, as they did not see a lot of “yellow people on TV” growing up.

Unlike other large-scale culture shows on campus that invite a more diverse group of performers, such as on-campus a cappella groups and improv troupes, SEAC chose to focus on solely celebrating the culture their club represents. All of the show’s performances were either native to Southeast Asia or were by groups founded by performers from that demographic.

Alice Gong ’20 explains their decision, saying that “[the club] feels that Southeast Asia is underrepresented, even within the Asian community,” and wants AYALA to be “an opportunity to showcase their talents and accomplishments.”

The show started with a video introducing the e-board members and this year’s “Masa Lalu” theme. The video, written by Gong, and filmed and produced by Amanda Huang ’19, told a humorous story in which SEAC e-board procrastinates getting ready for the show despite only having one day left. Fed up with the group, the show’s coordinators (Gong, Carmen Huang ’20 and Kathy Wong ’20) decide to travel back in time with the help of their club mascot, a stuffed otter. They go on a journey to reclaim their club’s flags, each of which represent the 11 countries in the Asian sub-region, from club members in their toddler, middle school and high school years. The video ends on a high note, with all the e-board members successfully finishing all the preparation required for the show, and Gong, Huang and Wong returning the flags to their rightful place.

After the introductory video, Boston College’s Southeast Asia Student Association (SEASA) performed a mix of traditional Indonesian dances, and ProtoHype from University of Massachusetts Lowell performed in navy polo shorts with khakis and plaid skirts, reminiscent of school uniforms. ProtoHype brought back middle school and memories of dancing to Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch” and “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy Tell’em. Ironically, the dances verged on overtly sexual, leaving some members of the audience uncomfortable.

Brandeis group Flashback Filipino performed at Ayala, featuring their vice president Chris Calimlim ’19, Digital Media Chair Maia Reyes ’19 and alumni Julie Ruiz ’17. Ruiz, a co-founder of “Flashback Filipino,” started the group in her sophomore year as a way to celebrate Filipino culture among friends. The trio sang songs in both Filipino and English, with Ruiz accompanying their voices on the piano.

Following the video was a performance by Brandeis’ very own Bhangra dance team, dressed in colorful, traditional costumes. Bhangra seamlessly combined traditional Punjabi folk dance with Western hip-hop.

SEAC’s first-year members performed in their own act, per club tradition. Tirtho Aungon ’21, SEAC’s Freshmen Representative, and Vananh Pham ’21 led the audience through the “YouTube rewind challenge edition,” a series of food challenges including the baby food challenge, “Chubby Bunny,” the cricket-eating challenge and the spicy noodle challenge. While some members of the audience were turned off by the idea of eating bacon cheddar-flavored crickets and prune-flavored baby food, the eight volunteers took on the challenges in good spirits, motivated by the possibility of winning the prize—a SEAC long-sleeved t-shirt.

The second act started with Tari Punjari, a traditional Indonesian dance, which originates from a region in Indonesia known as Banyuwangi, meaning “fragrant water.” SEAC’s event coordinator Jennifer Taufan ’20 choreographed the dance to mimic the movement of girls playing and dancing on the beach, similar to the dance’s conventional choreography. The dance gracefully portrays girls from a small village reveling by the water during a full moon despite the music’s abrupt ending.

Tari Punjari was followed with modern dancing by the N’SEAC. Group members wore matching flannels and danced their hearts out to “Treasure” by Bruno Mars and “Yeah!” by Usher, choreographed by Dong-Min Sung ’19.

Up next was Rice Paddy Heroes, a self-described “group of failed actors trying to dance” and “a group of friends who are trying to have fun and save the day.” The dance group integrated pre-recorded conversation and typing sounds with their fun choreography.

AYALA 2018: Masa Lulu successfully combined time-honored customs and modernity to create the Asian-American culture that many of the group and audience members at the event shared.

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