LNYF 2024, WashU’s Sold-out event

| Staff Writer

Korean Fan’s synchronization and choreography dazzled viewers at this year’s Lunar New Year Festival (Isabella Diaz-Mira | Student Life)

On the first Friday of February, as I sat with my friend in Whispers, I planned out my upcoming week. Looking at my weekend, I remembered Washington University’s Lunar New Year Festival, or LNYF, an event my suitemate had insisted I must see. When I looked at tickets, the Friday show was already sold out, and the Saturday evening show had a single ticket left. Stunned, I quickly bought the last ticket, and then I texted my suitemate: “Wanna go to the LNYF show together next weekend?”

According to its website, WashU LNYF “is an annual student-run production staged in commemoration and celebration of the Lunar New Year.” While I had heard much about this event before, I had never been to it. 

Interestingly, I hadn’t seen any advertisements for the show around campus. I knew that the show was a huge, highly anticipated production — why else would the event have already sold out Edison Theater for three shows and have a perpetual waitlist for tickets? But, why exactly was it so popular every year? How could it have garnered such a reputation? And what was it like to actually go? I set out to answer these questions for myself.

That Saturday evening, my suitemate and I walked to Mallinckrodt Center, where we were greeted by an eager crowd streaming into the theater. Peeking over the railing onto the lower level, we could see a few of the show’s performers finishing up their preparations. Despite the winding down of Mardi Gras festivities across campus and the greater St Louis area, the sold-out audience was anything short of wound down. 

Contemporary Chinese dancers graced the stage at the 2024 Lunar New Year Festival (Isabella Diaz-Mira | Student Life)

Even for the opening act by the Sensasians, the audience could not have been more enthusiastic. With my suitemate, I sat in the audience and couldn’t help but share the excitement for the show about to come. The energy was unprecedented for closing night on a dreary Saturday evening. 

After a quick introduction video of the performers, the show began with the Lion Dance. With percussion in the background, the performers nimbly danced in elaborate, flowy costumes as the audience cheered and gasped with delight. 

Only after this opening act did the LNYF student directors introduce themselves and welcome the eager audience to the show. Starting the show with Lion Dance was a great decision on the part of the directing staff. Another decision I enjoyed was the introductory videos before each performance; in addition to the cute theming, it allowed the audience to be acquainted with the very talented performers. As each performer was introduced, there was no shortage of cheers from audience members who came to support a friend — a sweet and spirited manifestation of the audience’s high levels of excitement that persisted throughout the entire show.

The Yoyo team slings their diabolos across the stage at this year’s Lunar New Year Festival (Isabella Diaz-Mira | Student Life)

The show was an impressively diverse and engaging set of acts ranging from a thrilling Taekwondo performance, to the elegant Watersleeve dance, to the lively Yoyo routine. I feel that the organizers of LNYF were successful in balancing the energy between each performance, which sustained the audience’s interest throughout the two-hour show, leaving the audience wanting more even up to its end. The beauty of the performances and the skill of the performers were unmatched, so much so that I often found myself forgetting that everyone in LNYF was a student, just like me. 

Following the presentation of LNYF’s philanthropic recipient, Prison Performing Arts (an organization running performing arts programs for incarcerated people), and a brief intermission, the show continued with just as much energy and excitement as the first half. The two-hour show seemed to go by in the blink of an eye, inspiring nonstop awe and wonder in the audience. The final bows of each group were met with thunderous applause from the audience. 

Coming into the show, I found the fanfare around the show to be somewhat unexpected. However, after seeing LNYF, I can confidently say that the excitement is well deserved. Each group’s choreography was well done, and the differences between each performance added to the appeal of the show rather than seeming cacophonous. I am still wonderstruck by how incredibly talented the performers were and how coordinated each group was. It’s no wonder that this event is so popular. 

WashU Juggling passes rings, among other items, back and forth to each other in the second act of the 2024 Lunar New Year Festival (Isabella Diaz-Mira | Student Life)

Each act brought something new and impressive to the table. Personally, I had never seen most of these performances before, so they were all new and fascinating to me. The costuming congruency further added to the professionalism of the whole show. While LNYF had something for everyone, my favorite act was the Standing Drums performance in the second act, as it was particularly well-choreographed and fun to watch. My suitemate’s favorite act was the Juggling, especially when they brought out the light-up juggling balls and continued the routine in the dark. Other favorites of ours were Tinikling, which is always very entertaining to watch, and Korean Fan, which was aesthetically stunning. 

As a first-timer, after going to LNYF myself, I would advise any WashU student who has not yet seen it to go and see the show next year. Just remember to snag a ticket before it’s too late! 


Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.