LNYF brings together 200 students in Asian cultural celebration

Leah Hardgrove | Contributing Writer

Washington University celebrated the start of the Year of the Dog this past weekend with the 22nd annual student production, Lunar New Year Festival. This year’s theme was “Side by Side,” symbolizing how each culture stands by each other. What started with fireworks bursting across Mudd Field ended in an incredible production featuring more than 200 members of the Wash. U. community.

The Chinese Fan segment, the Fusion and Tinkling dance numbers and the Standing Drums performance blended modern and traditional elements of Asian heritage, while the Lion Dance and Samulnori drum portion paid homage to the traditional aspects of East Asian culture. Water sleeves dancers performed in breathtakingly flowing costumes that perfectly mimicked the rushing water it represented.

Students juggle knives as part of the LNYF show. The production fundraised for Food Outreach, a nonprofit that helps to feed local, low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS and cancer. Jiyoon Kang | Student Life

Students juggle knives as part of the LNYF show. The production fundraised for Food Outreach, a nonprofit that helps to feed local, low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Showcasing the evolution of East Asian culture, a team of Wash. U. fashion designers handcrafted a variety of clothing styles over time. Students executed juggling, yo-yo and hula, three performance mediums often expressed in modern media, masterfully. These performances reminded the audience of the tradition behind these art forms. For the second year in a row, the Dai Chinese minority group was honored with a peacock dance. Taekwondo and Wushu, two forms of martial arts, showcased both the strength and the grace of the East Asian community.

Students perform Chinese Yoyo, which displays a synthesis of trick-based choreography along upbeat music. Over 200 students were involved in this year’s LNYF: “Side by Side” performance, which included a skit, music, dancing and juggling. Jiyoon Kang | Student Life

Students perform Chinese Yoyo, which displays a synthesis of trick-based choreography along upbeat music. Over 200 students were involved in this year’s LNYF: “Side by Side” performance, which included a skit, music, dancing and juggling.

“Honestly, it is such an incredible way for my culture to be celebrated, and to share my culture with my friends,” Heather Chung, a freshman attending LNYF for the first time and a native South Korean student who moved to the United States 11 years ago, said. “To see these performers put so much passion and skill into showing off our heritage, it makes me want to join. My cultural background is a big part of me, and LNYF reminds me of why it is. I want to see every culture expressed as magnificently as this.”

Lunar New Year Festival is more than just a cultural celebration; every year, it pairs with a local charity to improve the St. Louis community. This year, it partnered with Food Outreach, a nonprofit organization that provides food for those living with HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Dancers perform the Chinese Fan dance as part of LNYF’s show. This year’s LNYF skit focused on an LGBTQIA* student who came out to her parents after going on a date with a woman.Jiyoon Kang | Student Life

Dancers perform the Chinese Fan dance as part of LNYF’s show. This year’s LNYF skit focused on an LGBTQIA* student who came out to her parents after going on a date with a woman.

This performance allowed audience members to experience and explore moving modern and traditional aspects and issues facing the East Asian community. Every year, Lunar New Year Festival features a new skit that highlights social issues facing the community. This year’s skit centered around an LGBTQIA* girl and her struggle to find acceptance and love while coming out to her traditional Asian family. Each scene, performed in between other portions of the show, displayed a very real, often overlooked, situation, evoking emotional responses from the audience.

“Asian culture is so much more than Chinese takeout, sushi and anime,” Chung said. “And LNYF reminds people of this.”