Furthermore, with an interview with Coco Liu, the coordinator of Traditional Fan and Candle Dance, we are able to understand more about the festival. I also genuinely resonate with how fondly she thinks of the experience.
Q: What does the culture night mean for the community and for the club?
A: Through the culture night, the community is able to learn more about Vietanemese culture. The many different performance groups and drama attracts the audience, either students or faculties on campus or families and friends outside of UCLA, to come enjoy the night, and at the same time gain some knowledge to different extents about the culture. Without the Tet Festival, the community may never know that such a celebration exist in the Viet culture. Other culture clubs such as VSU also held culture shows like VCN; their VCN no doubt helped raise awareness about certain societal issues such as the Dream Act, but VNLC Tet Festival conveyed a different message: we celebrate Lunar New Year; we have distinct folk tales and traditions that is nothing like that of the Chinese stories; we have delicious food. For the club itself, Tet brought everyone in Tet closer together. It is a bonding experience for the Directors, Coordinators, Performers, etc. It is when everyone works hard for this own part, only to realize then that everything magically come together, to realize that they have made connections with many as everyone works hard towards the same goal: to make Tet happen.
Q: What did you hope to convey with traditional dance, for the event Tet Festival?
A: The 2 dances, the candle is to convey a graceful and elegant mood/style, while fan is to convey a more playful side of the Vietnamese culture. The song chosen for the fan dance was about how boys flirtatiously approach the girls and propose to them (I think) as the girls artfully rejects them. I wanted the audience to enjoy watching the dances. To me, whether the audience liked the traditional dance or not means more than any message that was meant to convey. I simply hoped that the audience likes it, and that the traditional dance would contribute to their Tet Festival viewing experience.
Q: How did you feel the event went?
A: I think the event went pretty well. We had a pretty good turnout. I was happy to see that as soon as the clock hit 6 pm, so many people arrived and waited in line for food. The arrival of so many people made me feel that we didn’t put in so much time and effort for nothing, that people are going to watch the show, our show.
Q: Did you feel that the event and its purpose was well-received?
A: I think so. The purpose I feel was to express Vietnamese culture, and I feel that drama and the performance groups did a great job in integrating the culture aspects into the show, at the same time making it interesting to watch. Because I feel the audience definitely enjoyed the drama, and did not feel like we were simply preaching to them. With this enjoyment I’m sure they’ve got some culture out of it. Like for Tet, people actually wanted to watch the drama because it’s a enjoyable show, because I know for other culture nights people sometimes go only for the Modern dance. And, after attending Tet, I’m sure that now all whom attended when asked if they know what “Tet” is, they would at least know that it is the “Vietnamese Lunar New Year”.
Q: What inspired traditional dance? particularly fan?What is traditional dance about? particularly fan?
A: Fan dance has long been a part of Vietnamese traditional dance. It has a long history. To me traditional dance is a really important aspect of a culture. It is like performing the daily activities of the Vietnamese people! The fan dance, in a sense, is telling about the lives of the Vietnamese men and women.
Q: Why did you decide to be coordinator? How was your experience as coordinator?
A: Initially it was pretty random. Lisa needed a coordinator and she asked me because I have experience in traditional dance, and I decided to volunteer to be the coordinator. It doesn’t hurt to experience being a coordinator. So initially I took the job relatively light-hearted, because Lisa told me all I have to do is to teach and that the dance is already choreographed. Only after did I realize that it is so much more than just teaching a set of choreographs.
There is really a lot of responsibility associated with being a coordinator, especially when you don’t have a co-coordinator. I’ve seen my dance coordinator, but I never knew that a coordinator can experience a lot of mental stress in both what to teach and how to teach everything in time for the show. Sometimes even sending a email as to when practice will be is stressful to some extent, at least to me. It’s really a leadership experience to me. I have been on staff for other clubs on campus, but none with such responsibility. This is this big part of the show is entirely on my shoulders to coordinate.
I feel I learned a lot about how to coordinate a dance. Now if asked to write a list of tips as to what one should do as a coordinator, or what I learned from it, I would be able to do it.
Besides the leadership aspects, what I gained most is probably the people I met and the connections I’ve made. I didn’t expect to meet a group of friends, like you Amy. It happened as the show was approaching. At first I was only the coordinator, now I felt I’ve actually become friends with my dancers. Because of such unexpected and long-lasting friendship, Tet was really a wonderful experience for me.