Culture Show & Performances
Culture shows are an integral part of many people’s college experience. It gives students an opportunity to fully express themselves creatively through dance, music, storytelling, and other art forms. Not only does culture shows also offers an outlet for people to showcase their creativity, but it also gives an opportunity to show their logistical and organizational skills. Many culture shows aim to tackle important issues that affect the Vietnamese community through their storytelling and themes, but however today we will explore the performance aspect. Performances like lion dance and traditional dance preserve and promote Vietnamese culture, while performances like modern dance and musical acts showcase the blending of modern-day culture. This project aims to serve as inspiration for future culture shows and to recognize great performances of the past.
Texas VSA performing their lions dances with their own Ông Địa.
Many culture shows start out with a big BANG… on the drums! Lion dances, also known as múa lân, traditionally represent the start or opening of a big event such as weddings, businesses, and especially culture shows. The lion dance is highly symbolic, supposedly used to ward off evil spirits. Many lion dances also have a special appearance from a dance partner, Ông Địa, who is depicted as a large bellied, grinning man that takes the lead in clearing the path for the lions.
Vietnamese traditional dances trace back to the Trần Dynasty to the Nguyễn Dynasty to be performed in the Vietnamese Imperial court. Today, traditional dances have become one of the most popular and arguably the most important performances in culture shows since it is so unique to our Vietnamese culture. Traditional dances can include fans, hats (nón lá), umbrellas, lotuses, ribbons, or a combination of everything.
Cal VSA performing a traditional hat dance
UAlberta VSA performing a traditional fan dance at UNAVSA-14
UMich VSA performing a traditional umbrella dance
UVSA NorCal performing a combination at UNAVSA-15
Modern dance is a genre of theatrical dance that focuses on a dancer’s own interpretations instead of structured steps. However in the VSA culture show world, it often refers to hip hop or contemporary dancing. Modern dance gives students the chance to embrace their western culture.
San Diego State University VSA Modern performing a hip-hop dance at Maxt Out 2019
Long Beach VSA performing a contemporary style dance at CPPVSA Showdown of the Ages 2017
Culture shows also offers a platform for people to showcase their musical talent through singing, arranging, and playing instruments. These performances have a wide variety ranging from covering classic Paris by Night songs to hyping up the crowd with their favorite anime theme songs.
Ohio State VSA showcasing a variety of singing acts in English and Vietnamese
UGA VSA showcasing a piano and violin musical medley of a variety of anime songs
It can be difficult to find new entertainment acts that are innovative to every culture show. These are great examples on how to utilize other tools and talents to make your performance unique!
Rice VSA performing a shadow dance that includes storytelling
UGA VSA performing a synchronized swimming act
Kavi and Antony performing a spoken word about culture shows at UNAVSA-11