Students enjoyed a little “Taste of Asia” in the Students Event Center at the Redwood campus on Wednesday Feb. 29. The purpose of this event was to promote cultural diversity and create awareness of the Asian culture at SLCC by sharing talents and knowledge of people in the community.
- People often mistake the traditional lion dance for the dragon dance. There is a difference in costumes as well as legends. There are many myths and legends surrounding the lion dance and how it came about.
- According to Sil Lum Kung Fu Kwoon club website, legend has it that an Emperor worried about the suffering and pain of his people caused by evil spirits and demons. He had heard of “The King of the Jungle” from distant lands and thought that this animal could scare away the demons. Though lions are not native to China and he did not know what one looked like, he had artists create the animal mirroring that of the dragon and other mythical creatures in order to scare away the evil spirits.
- One of the main distinctions between the lion and dragon costumes is that the lions are much smaller in comparison to the dragon. Whereas there may be several dancers for the dragon and only one or two for the lion.
The event began with the traditional Lion Dance welcoming the Chinese New Year performed by the Sil Lum Kung Fu Kwoon club and ended with a display of art, a musical performance by a Gamelan group from BYU, and food from Indonesia.
“I was so amazed,” says Emily Green, a SLCC student who was there to write a paper about the event for her Dance 1010 class. “I thought the [lions] were really impressive. I liked their movements and when they spit the lettuce out on me I was so shocked and I didn’t know it was supposed to be for good luck for the next year. I guess I’ll have good luck. I need it for sure.”
SLCC’s Arts and Cultural Events (ACE) puts together this annual event to increase student awareness of the rich culture of Asian students residing here at SLCC and in the community.
This year they focused on Indonesia to help students learn about the Indonesian culture and where to find it on a map.
SLCC students were treated to the whimsical sounds and rhythmic beats of Balinese music performed by the Gamelan Bintang Wahyu, an ensemble of musicians from the BYU community. They played hand-crafted percussion instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums, bamboo rattles and gongs.
Gamelan is the traditional and contemporary music from the island of Bali in the Indonesian peninsula. Gamelan can be translated as “orchestra” or “ensemble” as it involves not only the instruments but the musicians playing together to create a unique sound.
“One thing that is emphasized a lot in Balinese and other Indonesian cultures, is the idea of community and the idea of cooperation,” said Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw, Bintang Wahyu’s current director and performer.
“That same thing applies in their music as well because the music has a lot of what we call interlocking parts. Lots of—one guy playing notes and rests while the other guy is playing notes in the first guys rests. So when they play together it creates a really neat and beautiful composite melody and that idea of community is very, very pervasive in their music and dancing.”
Gamelan is not only involved in many religious rituals of the country, but is also found in many contemporary sounds. Student’s mainly heard the customary sounds of Gamelan during this performance but also of how it has affected some the contemporary sounds of today.
Grimshaw shared with the students that if they did a Youtube search for Gamelan AngLung and Rihanna they could find a video of someone playing a Bamboo instrument to Rihanna’s popular “Umbrella” song.
“We have the Asian awareness month every year funded by Arts and Culture [Events],” said Sulistiyani Kathol, Chair of the Asian Awareness Planning Committee. “Usually we begin during the Chinese New Year’s. We start with the Lions Dance and after that end with the Taste of Asia to introduce all of the students about Asia.”
Next year the committee is planning to highlight China during the Taste of Asia. They will have their first meeting in the fall of 2012 to plan the events and activities for the next year’s Taste of Asia. The planning committee includes staff, students and faculty.
“Anyone can get involved,” said Kathol. “They don’t have to be Asian.”