Asian Arts Talent and Fashion Shows Highlight Broad Spectrum of Asian Cultures

This weekend, Andover welcomed spring with the celebration of the Asian Arts Festival’s 25th anniversary. Traditional Asian dress, music, food, henna designs and origami cranes were just some of the attractions of this year’s festival.

Led by the Andover Korean Society, audience members at Saturday’s Asian Arts Talent Show warmed up with the “Korean National Stretch.” A YouTube video of an energetic Korean man marched the audience through intense back stretches, squats and more, though most audience members opted to instead exercise their abdominal muscles in fits of laughter.

The “Korean National Stretch” act marked the conclusion of a successful Asian Arts Talent Show, which showcased a diverse array of unique cultural shows, allowing the audience to have a glimpse into the vast world of Asian arts.

Shortly after the talent show, the night continued with the Fashion Show. Students modeled a range of different attire, while the significance and everyday use of the clothing were explained. Some students displayed a more casual form of traditional dress, while others presented more formal, elaborate costumes. The Fashion Show included garb from several countries, such as Japan, Thailand and India.

Avery Kim ’17, who represented Korea, modeled “hanbok,” a vibrantly-colored traditional dress.

“Pieces resembling this can be found in murals dating back to the third century B.C.E. It used to be worn as everyday clothing, but now it is worn ceremoniously, such as weddings, funerals and children’s first birthdays,” said Kim.

“Glee” star Harry Shum, Jr. also visited Andover as part of the festival. His appearance was funded by an Abbot Grant.

Lalita Kittisrikangwan ’14 said to Shum, one of her biggest inspirations, “I just wanted to thank you [because] I’m in a dance group here at Andover, and a lot of people are surprised, asking: ‘Oh, you’re Asian and you actually know how to dance?’ For you to be on ‘Glee’ and [to be] an inspiration in breaking stereotypes shows a lot of people that we’re not just good at science and math. We can do a lot more than that.”

Shum started off the night by speaking about his childhood. Born in Costa Rica, he moved to California at the age of four. There, he had trouble relating to his peers because of his race.

“The moment when I went and tried out for the drama team was when it all changed for me,” said Shum. “I got to do this improvisation, and the scene was being a cheerleader. From there, the teacher loved it, and I got to do it in front of a school assembly. That’s when I knew I loved [dancing], and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life,” said Shum.