ASA Culture Fair features hip hop dancing, taekwondo and more


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Members of ASA perform during the annual cultural fair on Sunday in the William Pitt Union.

By James Paul, Staff Writer

Flashing peace signs, hearts and busting down low, members of Pitt’s Asian community strutted out on stage in the William Pitt Union, sporting traditional outfits from their cultures.

Fashion, food and dancing filled the Assembly Room at this year’s Asian Student Alliance Culture Fair on Sunday night. Under the umbrella of the ASA, members of the Chinese American, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese student associations, along with visiting student organizations, presented gems from their cultures, bringing it all together in a joint fashion show.

With an audience of more than 100 people, performers like Peter Fung and Cindy Tsai of the Chinese American Student Association played a piano-accompanied version of “Tong Hua,” which translates to “fairytale” in English. 

Helix, a CMU hip hop dance crew, energized the crowd with their original dance “Outlaws,” a bass-fueled overlay of traditional sounds leading into “THE REV3NGE” by Joey Bada$$.

Angie Lkhagvasuren’s performance of “Summer” on the yochin, a traditional Mongolian string instrument, refurbished the Antonio Vivaldi classic with house beats.

According to Tammy Hoang, ASA’s public relations chair and a sophomore biology and studio arts double major, Lkhagvasuren was one of the event’s few Mongolian performers. She said this year’s inclusion of Mongolian acts is part of the ASA’s efforts to increase representation beyond East Asia.

“Last year, I just felt like it was really East Asian-centered,” Hoang said. “So I really wanted more Filipino and Vietnamese and then also representation from around the world.”

Members of Ya’Baso, a Pitt African dance team, performed a modern, hip-hop-inspired dance. Pitt’s Taekwondo club chopped it up on stage with a hand-to-hand demonstration of the Korean martial art. FRESA, a Pitt dance collective, performed to “Luna” by ONEUS with a dazzling flourish of traditional fans. 

Two members of ASA sing together during the annual cultural fair on Sunday in the William Pitt Union.
(Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer)

Met with an encore of cheers, the joint fashion show featured traditional garb from China, Mongolia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

Timothy Duong, president of VSA, said he was proud that his club presented the áo dài, a traditional dress shirt, in the show. Duong, a junior neuroscience and economics major, said events like the annual fair are important to represent Vietnamese culture.

“The city of Pittsburgh and even on the University of Pittsburgh campus, it’s a white institution,” Duong said. “So it’s hard for us to kind of come together and find these special cultural moments, but we have events like this to celebrate in our own space being part of this unique culture.”

VSA, along with CASA, KSA and FSA, offered staple foods from their respective cultures, such as egg rolls, sticky rice and sugared bananas. Capping off the performances, performers and attendees sampled the free food and mingled after.

Ami Klinghoffer, a sophomore biology major, came to watch her friends perform in the taekwondo exhibition, but said she stayed for the opportunity to learn about different cultures.

“I think it’s really good to spread awareness of culture and just to learn new things about different cultures,” Klinghoffer said. “I learned a lot and I have a lot of Asian friends. So I think it’s cool to have insight into different Asian cultures.”

Hoang said she joined the ASA last year so she wouldn’t “lose her sense of identity,” and that the annual fair is the perfect chance to platform minority groups from around the world.

“I just want more representation,” Hoang said. “Not just East Asia — like Chinese, Japanese and Korean. I want more representation of the other parts of Asia — like India and the Philippines — the ones that are often not looked at.”