LNYF annual show dazzles with performances filmed across St. Louis

| Staff Writer

Lunar New Year Festival (LNYF) is back with their performance for the Year of the Ox: “Unwavering.” The club adapted their performance beautifully to follow COVID-19 guidelines and managed to perform a very cohesive program despite the need to perform completely virtually. 

This year, they have partnered with the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition in an effort to “support the foster and adoptive children in the metropolitan St. Louis community,” show executive director Cindy Zhuang and Richard Ni said, introducing the philanthropy organization. In addition, Ni addressed the ongoing struggle with Asian hate in our country and hoped that the show “demonstrates that they are proud of their heritage and serves as a reminder that all identities and backgrounds are beautiful and deserve respect and love.” 

The program began with a pre-show performed by Lily Luu on the dàn tranh, a plucked Vietnamese zither. Luu impressively played both the melody and the harmony of a piece called “Tinh Ca Trê Lúa.” Luu’s performance of the complex song was very beautiful. Four other students then performed the song “Tong Hua,” which means “Fairy Tale.” Ariel Feng played the guitar and sang, Nick Ho played guitar, David Maeng played percussion and Michael Dizon played piano. Their performance provided a nice modern contrast to the traditional dàn tranh performance.

Throughout the show, presentations of skits were performed in eight different segments. There were four monologues, all written and performed by LNYF members, all written and performed by LNYF members, stretching across many themes including sexual assault, racism and the stereotypes endured by Asians and Asian-Americans. By breaking up the monologues but keeping a continuous theme of passion and beautifully unique storytelling, LYNF amplified this year’s theme of “Unwavering.” The stories continued throughout the program, yet the sentiment stayed consistent. 

The Hula segment was next, showcasing the “symbolic dance movements” of traditional Hawaiian mythology and history. This scene had exceptional cinematography that was adapted for social distancing. It was shot in various places around the St. Louis area, then the dancers’ videos were merged together as if they were in the same place.  Between the setting and the beautiful Hawaiian skirts, this performance provided a stunning shot as the introduction to the rest of the dancing.

I was also very impressed by the program’s graphic design. From the transitions to animated introduction of members, it was clear that the editors did not take their job lightly. I especially liked the segment where it looked like a desktop screen and transition between different members. This was such a cute and unique way to incorporate the struggles of online classes into the program in an uplifting way.

Next was Samulnori, which is a word that combines the Korean word “samui” meaning four things and “nori” meaning play. This performance has four types of instruments, and they all represent some type of weather to celebrate a “plentiful harvest.” This segment was shot outside the front of Brookings Hall. 

The Yoyo section was a choreographed performance accompanied with edited motion graphics and glow-in-the-dark yoyos. This fast-paced choreography urged you to not blink an eye for fear of missing something. The performers used many types of yoyos, displaying amazing precision throughout the performance.

Chinese Fan was a beautiful performance that merged elements of ballet, modern and Chinese dance with flowing white fans. This part had several different musical nuances that showcased the diverse talent of the dancers. They changed between soft flowing music and more intense, fast-paced music. It was especially impressive that the dancers were all moving at the same time and with such precision despite not dancing together as a physical group.

The senior dance displayed the seniors who are performing in their last year of LNYF. The combination and variety of music in this section showed how this community has fostered an amazing and accepting group of people. It included all seniors, even those who were not primarily involved in the dance portion of the community. This middle section included modern trending songs such as “WAP,” creating a more light humored atmosphere. 

The standing drums section was next, and they displayed an effortless yet complex combination of traditional Korean percussion and contemporary rhythm. The cinematography of this section was vivid and really complimented the intensity of the music and choreography. This performance was incredibly entertaining, with the visual effects adding to the auditory performance. 

The final dancing section was presented by the Fusion group, which used a multitude of different dance styles from hip-hop to classical Chinese. The talent displayed in this section was diverse yet very cohesive between the members; you could tell that they had a very fun and inspiring bond. 

The program finished with juggling. These members displayed their talents with many different props such as glow-in-the-dark balls and hoops. Like many other dancers, they used a number of different sceneries in the St. Louis area and beyond.

It was exciting to see the program come together despite the obvious barrier of COVID-19. These community members still presented an impressive line-up of performers and creators at Washington University, able to showcase their talent and culture even without a live performance.

LNYF is not the only group that has performed recently. Here’s what else is happening:

Plastic, pain, and power: As ‘Pathways’ debuts, MFA candidates reflect on their artistic journeys 

Black Anthology, first student-run cultural show to return to Edison, navigates pandemic restrictions to produce 32nd show

‘FOCUS’ traps audiences inside their own heads (in a good way)

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