This weekend, the Asian American Association (AAA) of Notre Dame held their annual cultural showcase “Asian Allure” in Washington Hall. The event, themed “Carrying the Legacy,” featured 20 performances and 132 Notre Dame students.
“This show serves as a memento for our loved ones and predecessors,” show director Brian Johny said. “It is a way for us to continue to carry their legacy, but also our culture, onwards.”
This year’s performance included several new features, which Johny said were key to ensuring the show revolved around its central theme.
“Over the summer, we came up with the concept of interview videos where performers would interview a loved one,” Johny said. “The interviews were essentially narratives of how culture moves onward, and we played them before the main performances.”
The performances took place Friday and Saturday evening, and Saturday’s show welcomed a record number of audience members.
While the performances took place over two days, assistant director Julia Ysabel Santiaguel emphasized that months of hard work were put into making the shows possible.
“We chose the ‘Asian Allure’ director during the spring semester once we rolled over into a new AAA board. After that, [Johny] created a Google form to reach out to people who were interested. We then really got to planning during the summer,” she said.
Marketing director Arisa Custodio planned social media posts and a photo shoot to publicize the event.
Program assistant and emcee Santosharupa Ponna said she does not believe the show would have been so successful without the marketing team.
“This year we had a whole photo shoot which we used to create posters, and we also had a 10 day countdown on Instagram,” Custodio said. “In our photo shoot, we had people carrying cultural items to really get our theme out there.”
Students also carried cultural items — including various traditional instruments, clothing, masks and props — in the Chinese Culture Society’s fan dance and the Korean Student Association’s samulnori/talchum performance.
In addition to featuring six cultural clubs, multiple independent student groups participated in “Asian Allure.”
“After I had a roster of the performances from the cultural clubs, we held auditions for individuals who want to showcase an aspect of their culture that the cultural clubs do not do,” Johny said. “Because I thought all the auditions were beautiful, the show was a little more lengthy.”
The show ran for about two and a half hours, with a fifteen minute intermission between two acts.
Rose Nguyen and Ponna, the emcees, navigated the transitions between performances.
“Rose and I knew we wanted to make the show memorable by making distinct introductions for each performance. After tech week, we worked together to come up with tidbits to add before the introductory comments for each performance,” Ponna said.
In addition to being involved in the show’s production, Johny and Ponna performed in a few of the showcases.
“My favorite part about being a part of ‘Asian Allure’ was getting the chance to perform with my brother before he graduates this spring. This year’s show also held a special moment for me as my parents could come to watch us perform and see us carry on their legacy,” Ponna said.
From weekly practices to long nights during tech week, being a performer in “Asian Allure” requires a lot of time and effort. However, as Ponna and Johny said, the hard work is worth it.
“Every time I reflect on my own dance I’m a part of, I feel like I am also carrying the culture onwards and preserving a tradition of classical dance,” Johny said.
While “Asian Allure” serves as an opportunity to share Asian culture with the Notre Dame community, it is also a meaningful bonding experience for the performers themselves, Johny said.
“My favorite part is honestly getting closer with the Asian community and seeing everyone, and especially the freshman, have someone to look up to,” Johny said. “It’s also about forming those friendships and those bonds, and I really believe that will last even after we graduate.”