By the Filipino Star
Spectacular, more colorful Toni Martinez, production manager of the Splendor of the East 2015, a cultural show presented every year by the Council of Asian Pacific Americans, had promised that this year’s version would be different from the past presentations.
The show was indeed different in that it was more spectacular and colorful, but what distinguished this year’s edition was that it was cohesive and orderly. It focused on the East’s various wedding traditions, and this made the segments of the show connected nicely to each other. As a result, it was not only immensely entertaining but it was also educational.
Another distinguishing element was the inclusion of two vocal numbers that showcased the outstanding singing and operatic talents of the performers. The show as an excellent theatrical work, and proved that with the fertile imagination of the producers and choreographers, cultural shows can be spectacular, colorful and gratifying. One portion, which was particularly colorful, was the fashion show showcased the sparkly, beautiful outfits of the East’s brides and grooms as well as the members of the bridal entourages.
The show opened with a performance by the Nupur Dance Group that showed the audience some rituals marking Indian wedding celebration. This was followed by a vocal solo by Miss Misato Assimoto who sang a Japanese classic song entitled “One Beautiful Day.” Miss Assimoto is a talented singer with an operatic voice.
The third segment was present by the Taiwanese group led by Sharon Dow. Titled “Double Happiness,” it portrayed a traditional Taiwanese marriage culture. The fourth segment was a Polynesian dance presented by the PACCM Hula Dance Group. It was made memorable by the excellent performance of Miss Marissa Orzame who danced a Tahitian (Aparima) routine.
The Korean group led by top choreographer Sun Mi Choi came next, presenting a dance number with a fast-pace tempo – Korean Pop which is also known as Kpop.
The PACCM entourage presented a number that focused on traditional Philippine wedding. It was capped by a well applauded vocal number by Fely Villegas who sang a classic Filipino love song entitled “Hanggang” (Always). The last East’s marriage rite was a Chinese royal wedding which was noted for the sparkling, elaborate costumes of the bride and the groom. This kind of wedding had its roots in the Tang Dynasty.
The show was capped by the performance of the members of the Raion Taiko Drum Group who amazed the audience with the well orchestrated playing of a dozen drums with varying sizes. The simultaneous striking of the drums generated a fast-paced music and showed the rare talents of the performers.
By Connie Loh
I was invited to attend Splendor of the East for the first time this year. Wow, was I in for a delightful surprise! If I could sum up the night in one word, it would be “splendid!”
The night opened with a heavenly, dream-like expressive dance executed by talented dancer and lead choreographer, Sun Mi Choi. Intentional use of different colored lights spotlighted Sun Mi Choi as she pranced and leaped gracefully across the stage. Meanwhile, emcee and narrator for the evening, Jeanne Beau, kept the audience engaged and informed with a descriptive narrative of the program.
A fashion show highlighting the traditional wedding attire of various Asian Pacific countries such as Taiwan, China, and the Philippines took us on a colorful, vibrant and inspiring journey, filled with bright red qi-pao’s (traditional Chinese dress) and Polynesian style sun dresses. The models radiated with light as they debuted their outfits in front of a full house of enamored audience members.
Sisters, Ingrid and Isabel Crant of the Windsor-Essex Youth Choir, sang “Somewhere Over the “Rainbow” and ushered in the main course — a whimsical, star-studded show of dance and music celebrating the diverse customs of love and marriage in Asia.
The Nupur Dance Group was the first to present an energetic, jovial dance commemorating the traditional Indian wedding. The performance took us through the ancient rituals of welcoming the groom to the bride, the couple’s exchange of garlands, and the sharing of their love around a sacred, ceremonial fire.
Misato Matsuda, a Japanese opera singer trained at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Nagoya, gave a spectacular rendition of the infamous song, “One Beautiful Day,” from the opera, Madam Butterfly.
Performances honoring the wedding culture of Taiwan, Polynesia, Korea, South America, and the Philippines followed. Ning Xue choreographed the final dance of the evening, a Royal Wedding taking place in the palace of ancient China. Chinese dancers clothed in traditional Tang Dynasty style dresses appeared to float across the stage in their long robes. Their long, elegant sleeves were twirled through the air, giving the impression of a graceful wind blowing strands of colorful ribbon to and fro.
The evening ended with a thunderous performance led by Raion Taiko Drums. You could feel the room shake and the vibrations of the monstrous drums resonate through your body as the drummers simultaneously coordinated a harmony of percussion sounds throughout the auditorium. You could not help but feel drawn to the beats, as if the drums were pulling you closer and closer into a different world. The final curtain call allowed the awe-inspired audience to give a standing ovation of appreciation to the Council of Asian Pacific Americans and all the organizations and volunteers who made the event possible. Bravo to everyone for one splendid night!