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MSU group brings culture to campus

March 1, 2009

Members of the MSU Breakdance Club perform during the pre-show at Cultural Vogue, Friday night at the Auditorium.

Photo by Josh Radtke | The State News

From underneath stage lights and vibrant costumes came an alternative type of education about culture for MSU students.

The Asian Pacific American Student Organization, or APASO, held its 10th biennial Cultural Vogue at the Auditorium, a celebration of modern and traditional Asian culture.

Performances included a range of complex dance routines from hard-core stepping and breakdancing to ancient drumming and singing.

“The best thing about Cultural Vogue is that it is a mix of tradition and a modern part of basically all of our lives,” said advertising junior Brian Leung, coordinator of Cultural Vogue. “If we were just to have a normal cultural show, we would only get a certain number of people to come, but because we mix it up, a lot of people come out and see it.”

Cultural Vogue, which started in 1990, was the brainchild of Iris Shen-Van Buren, of West Bloomfield, who now works at MSU Outreach and Admissions in Detroit. Shen-Van Buren began Cultural Vogue as a way to showcase Asian American talents. It has now expanded into a three-hour event, with thoroughly choreographed routines and powerful acting scenes.

“We started off with a show that took two weeks and now they’re planning eight months in advance to get everything ready,” Shen-Van Buren said. “Everyone is so creative and really bringing something to the table.”

The show generates a crowd of about 200 to 300 people who pack the Auditorium. It continues to gain exposure each year.

“It gives us a chance to all come together and do something that represents who we are and just something we love to do,” finance senior and emcee Teddy Cao said.

The show included more than 17 organizations, ranging from Asian-interest sororities and fraternities to cultural student coalitions. Each group was asked to perform one traditional and one modern piece reflecting its specific culture.

Draped in colorful clothes, the audience was immersed into a whole new world.

“We prepared for at least seven weeks,” said psychology junior James Jung, Lambda Phi Epsilon step master and choreographer. “We’ve been working on our routine for a long time. We had a fusion of Kendo and modern instead of breaking it into two dances, like most people.”

One of the main goals of APASO and Cultural Vogue is not only to entertain, but to educate the students of MSU about Asian culture and to break the many stereotypes about Asian Americans.

“It’s a learning experience,” Leung said. “On a day-to-day basis, you don’t come into contact with these types of performances and you don’t come in contact with this type of show. Anytime people get to experience this type of show, it educates the people of MSU.”

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