Modern and Traditional Dance Styles Come Together in SEASA Culture Show

The dancers, their energetic figures illuminated purple from the glow of the stage lights, sprang across the stage as the 16th Annual Southeast Asian Student Association (SEASA) Culture Show commenced Saturday night. The room was an almost eerily black, but the bright lights and energy emanating from the stage seemed to dissipate the darkness. Much to the delight of the eager audience, the show began with an entertaining modern dance number by a visiting dance group from Brandeis University.

The theme of the night, The Seven Deadly Sins, was brought into the show through a comedic kidnapping of the SEASA’s President Peter Soewardiman, CSOM ’17, and the ensuing quest to save him by the club’s freshmen representatives, Ben Koh, Dennis Phan, Elaine Hartono, and Khanh Le, all MCAS ’19. The interplay and story set on stage introduced different mythical monsters hailing from the folklore of different Southeast Asian nations to the audience as well as set an introduction to each dance number. Following the introductory performance, the show graduated into more traditional Southeast Asian dances, but with some modern flare.

The first traditional dance of the night was a Vietnamese Fan Dance, choreographed  by Mai Hoang, MCAS ’16. The dance was visually stunning and elaborate, as the fans seemed to spin like graceful butterflies upon the stage. According to Vietnamese culture, the fans symbolize friendship and respect for one another, and the dance often embodied grace, nature, and subtly. The following performance, a traditional Malaysian Joget, was a couples’ dance featuring modern, upbeat music that was well-danced to and entertaining.


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Next was the Maglalatik, the Filipino Coconut Dance, which was one of the many highlights of the night. The performers, with coconut shell halves secured to their bodies and hands, tapped the the shells to produce a hollow sound as they danced. The red stop light that shone across the stage in the beginning of the number was a fitting touch for the mesmerized audience.

The final show before the intermission was a traditional Indonesian Saman/Lenggang Nyai dance. Choreographed by Elaine Hartono and Matt Mikrut, both MCAS ’17, the performance was fast paced, and the common harmony between the dancers was impeccable and exciting to watch.

This excitement and upbeat vibe was continued after the intermission with the final traditional dance of the night, the Filipino Escrima a class of martial arts fighting using sticks. The performance was carried out with both a sense of grace and fortitude, and had been expertly choreographed by Gary Kim, MCAS ’17, and Dennis Phan. The night then continued with a swift transition into modern dance numbers with a performance aptly entitled Modern Girls. This performance was followed by Modern Boys, and then finally by Modern Couples. All three performances were entertaining, well-danced, and incited great excitement from audience members.

The show came to a close with the eventual rescue of the club’s President and a final dance performance that culminated with the entirety of the show’s participants and club’s members together on stage.

Overall, the SEASA Culture Show was spectacular. It was a fun, exciting evening that featured beautiful traditional dances with a modern flare and wonderfully choreographed modern dances by enthusiastic and talented performers.  

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor