What really happens inside some of Boston’s best museums after dark? While Hollywood leads history buffs to believe that dinosaur bones deliberately destroy exhibits and figurines come to life just to wreak havoc through the halls after hours, the Chinese Students Association (CSA) and the Korean Students Association (KSA) of Boston College have a few unbelievable ideas of their own.
Apparently, playful chinese dragons dance while masters of Korean martial arts form flash mobs to show off their impressive skills. Ribbon dancers twirl to meticulously mapped moves while fan dancers dazzle with colorful fans and in-sync choreography. According to Saturday’s captivating CSA and KSA culture show, “Night at the Museum,”a high-energy presentation of singers, dancers and musicians,the mysterious evening hours transform museums into the perfect destinations for deep cultural exploration.
In lieu of formal emcees used to introduce the individual performances, the culture show followed a humorous narrative involving three characters whose antics and dialogue served as segues from one act to the next. The performance began with Sophia and Austin—two teenagers who have a difficult time deciding what kind of role their Chinese and Korean culture should play in their everyday lives as first-generation Asian Americans. After fighting with their parents about skipping Chinese school and Korean class on the weekends, the friends catch up to discuss their shared experiences and discuss the troubles associated with having to establish their own cultural identity.
Conveniently, right as they ponder the purpose and importance of their respective East Asian backgrounds, Sophia and Austin find themselves wandering the hallowed hallways of a Chinese and Korean museum under the protective wing of night shift security guard and Asian culture enthusiast, Gavin. Guiding them literally through the museum and figuratively through their individual journeys, Gavin helps the teenagers realize that embracing one’s background through various forms of art can be kind of awesome.
An enthralling Lion Dance performance kicked of the dance portion of the show. A traditional Chinese dance performed in celebration of the Lunar New Year, it consists of animal-like movement inspired by martial arts. Accomplishing impressive feats of choreography—jumping swiftly onto each other’s shoulders while concealed by a tassel-covered lion costume, for example—performers wowed the audience with a truly unbelievable spectacle. Immediately following this lively performance was a dance routine by a group of dancers wearing Korean Talchum masks. With each colorful mask functioning as both a disguise for dancers and an effective method of expressing character emotion, the dance used an energetic mix of traditional and contemporary music to convey a riveting narrative.
CSA and KSA members showcased their martial art adeptness with graceful Kung Fu choreography and a high-tempo Taekwondo show. With each wooden board broken, the audience’s cheers swelled to an even higher volume than before.
In order to properly balance elements of traditional East Asian culture with contemporary art, “Night at the Museum” brought modern music performances to the stage. Student renditions of popular CPOP and KPOP songs, in addition to hip-hop and urban-infused dance numbers, intensified the energy and diversified the overall program. Spanning a large portion of the show, this section of present-day dances and songs provided audience members with an in-depth look into the current fads and popular forms of Chinese and Korean entertainment.
Instead of detracting from the overall cultural experience, corny jokes and silly banter delivered by the performance’s three protagonists established a silly and lighthearted tone perfect for breaking up the rather long series of performances. The entertainers modernized their traditional Chinese and Korean crafts by comically incorporating modern lingo and references to today’s viral social movements. For instance, peppered periodically through the performances were phrases like “It’s gonna be lit!” in addition to more than a few imitations of football star Cam Newton’s now-famous “dab” dance move.
As the standout highlight of the night, the Chinese yo-yo performance was an unexpected addition to a song-and-dance-dominated show. Tossing the toy around their backs, through their legs and into the air, the performers brought wild yo-yo tricks rarely seen on the Robsham stage.
Artistically interweaving two distinct cultures and styles into one Robsham show, “Night at the Museum” offered its viewers both an enriching artistic experience and an opportunity to learn more about East Asian cultural expression. No children’s movie saga starring Ben Stiller could prepare viewers for this year’s collaborative CSA and KSA showcase, an imaginative clash of cultures that incorporated traditional and contemporary takes on Chinese and Korean art forms.
Featured Image By Francisco Ruela / Heights Staff