ARTS ON CAMPUS Not your typical East Asian festival

Inspirasian spices it up with South Asian, tribal, and modern pop acts


April 23, 2011

Kresge Auditorium

Last Saturday, the MIT Asian Dance Team (ADT) hosted Inspirasian, the inaugural Boston Asian Performing Arts Festival. The festival, held at Kresge Auditorium, featured performing groups from throughout the Greater Boston Area and included performances that represented both East and South Asia.

Inspirasian consisted mainly of dance acts, which interpreted both modern pop songs and traditional folk music. The MIT Asian Dance Team opened and closed the festival, with the “Element” dance opening Act I and “Unity” closing Act II. ADT also performed several other times during the festival to both Chinese pop songs and traditional folk styles. The Harvard Asian American Dance Troupe performed twice to Korean pop.

Many of the dances focused on Chinese minority tribes, such as the Zhuang, Hui, and Dai groups. In addition, there were dances with influences from Tibet, Mongolia, and Xianjiang. The Wang YMCA Chinese Dance Group performed Han-style long fan and fan fusion dances, and the Jia-Yun Dance Troupe presented a Chinese lantern dance.

Two MIT acapella groups performed at the festival. The MIT Ohms sang “Aashayein/Hope,” a Bollywood act combined with “Hope” by Twista and “Just a Dream” by Nelly. MIT Syncopasian sang “Shoes in Asian Homes” by ice1cube and “One” by Epik High. The MIT Chinese Choral Society sang two lyrical Chinese vocal works.

Three other groups provided styles that contrasted the East Asian-influenced dances that were prominent throughout the festival. The MIT Bhangra team performed the bhangra style that originated in the Indian state Punjab, while the Silk Bamboo Youth Ensemble gave two performances with traditional Chinese instruments. The MIT Chinese Yo-Yo Club also gave an exciting and audience-friendly performance in Act II.

Overall, Inspirasian was a successful event. The Asian Dance Team specializes in dances with East Asian influences, but the incorporation of MIT Bhangra and the MIT Ohms added diversity to what I expected to be a solely East Asian festival. The biggest strength was the eclectic nature of the festival, which stemmed from the variety of styles presented, including modern Asian pop, classical Chinese, and tribal styles.

Inspirasian is a terrific event for people wanting to experience a dance-centered festival that focuses primarily on modern and traditional East Asian styles. The performances were arranged in a logical and effective order, which allowed individual acts to flow naturally from one performance to the next. The success of such a fusion event comes from incorporating diverse styles and delivering strong performances, both of which were achieved.