With purple lighting cast onto the stage of the Nathan Hale Tent, wearing a red t-shirt, Phil Ko ’22 danced a solo before a large crowd. A few acts later, he returned in a dark blue hoodie alongside the members of K-Pop dance group J.V.N.E., and performed to the tune of “Get Cool,” bringing the Celebr-Asian Talent Show to a finale.
“You’ll often see Asian-Americans just being put to the background in terms of issues in the U.S., but that’s really not the case at all [here]. By showing power through performance, we can bring that to the forefront,” said Ko.
This year’s Celebr-Asian talent show consisted of a wide variety of acts, from singing solos to comedy and poetry recitation. Similar to Ko, J.V.N.E. member and performer Emily Huang ’21 noted the significance of the event in relation to Asian representation.
“We’re bringing a spotlight onto the K-Pop industry and showcasing different sides of the industry that we normally do not see. I think our group is becoming more and more diverse and more and more recognized on campus,” said Huang.
Due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March of 2020, the Celebr-Asian talent show did not take place during the 2019-2020 school year. Noting how the talent show celebrated Asian culture and community through its showcase of Asian artists, co-organizer Alex Park ’21 described the event as the “crux of the day.”
“I love getting to see people be at their best, and that’s what Celebr-Asian is about. It’s about culture, it’s about celebrating that culture and community… I think that while we must return to what we used to do [and] what’s familiar, [I] also think we have to take into account other things we’ve learned from the past year as we move forward,” said Park.
As the host of the show, Park also included some last-minute trivia questions between different acts, such as which Academy Awards the Korean film “Parasite” had won. According to event co-organizer Ryan Mai ’21, the talent show was also an opportunity for AAPI students to congregate and enjoy each other’s company.
“I think having a talent show specific to celebrating our Asian Heritage, especially on May 1 to kick off the first day of AAPI Heritage Month, is such an important way to come together and to celebrate our identity together,” said Mai.
Cheryl Tugade ’21, who performed her original song, “I’ve Been Lost,” noted that her part in the performance and community pertained to fostering AAPI solidarity. Tugade added that the choice of rap song reflected positivity and an upbeat energy.
“It was super fun, honestly… I typically never associate songwriters and singers and rappers with being Asian, so I feel like just me performing, me expressing myself as an Asian person [tied into AAPI solidarity,]” said Tugade.