September 18, 2020

Mystique mystifies audience with cultural performances

By Heidi Cho
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Several student organizations came together under bright lights for the annual Mystique of the East performance. The stunning Harry Potter-themed cultural productions by more than 10 groups demonstrated that Hogwarts could have benefitted from a cultural experience or two.

Holgado gracefully performs a traditional Binusuan dance. (Horacio Hernandez / Staff Photographer)
Holgado gracefully performs a traditional Binusuan dance. (Horacio Hernandez / Staff Photographer)

The five emcees introduced the audience to the campus’s largest student run cultural show. Mystique Chair and junior mathematics major Christine Papas, TCNJ Asian American Association, Chinese Student Association, Korean Student Association, Japanese Student Association, TCNJ Barkada and TCNJ Taiko came together to put on a dazzling show.

Harry Potter, played by junior computer science major Emily Kazenmeyer, Ron Weasley, played by junior undesignated transitional student Miguel Gatpolintan and Hermione Granger played by junior interactive multimedia major Julie Huang were on a mission to stop Lord Voldemort’s curse on Hogwarts’ tuition rate.

Senior nursing major Nikki Huang played Professor Quirrell and voiced other characters like Cho Chang. Kamy Reyes, a senior communications studies major, acted as Draco Malfoy, a script writer and the publicist.

Draco’s first few entrances were accompanied by the intro of “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Reyes played the most meta character of the spoof and a comic relief character along with Ron.

Between performances, the seven horcruxes to defeat Lord Voldemort were found and helped transition between performances. The emcees were also script writers who helped tie the months of hard work together.

The show started with a Chinese yo-yo light show that entranced audience members. As the curtains lifted, the silhouetttes of seven yo-yoers were in the dark.

The stunning visual took the audience’s breath away when the team started to throw, spin and catch yo-yos midair to the theme of Harry Potter.

All four original Hogwarts houses were represented in the following Chinese martial arts performance. Four performers each wore one of the four respective Hogwarts house colors, and each exemplified a different martial art style that mirrored the animal mascots of the houses.

The show took a different route when guitarist Anil Salem played “Dawn,” an original piece that brings Celtic and Indian music together. It featured dulcitarring — an original technique that involves playing the harp guitar and hammered dulcimer at the same time.

The transitions between shows and groups were smooth. Students part of the larger tinikling and K-pop groups left, entered and switched places efficiently.

The timing of several dances matched the music. Performers pulled off splits, cartwheels and gravity-defying stunts.

The color scheme of the lighting was minimalistic and striking. It mostly kept to the bright traditional colors of Hogwarts.

There were traditional folk performances like the Binasuan dance performed by soloist Lana Holgado, a sophomore psychology major. At once, Holgado kept three cups with water balanced while rotating her arms as the music mimicked the tense nature of the dance.

Several performances incorporated a contemporary portion with pop music.

Some tinikling performers were in white tops and red skirts, a contrast to the jean shorts worn by others later.

The CSA Dragonflies used traditional ribbons for one part of their performance, as well as fans and parasols to dance along to Chinese music.

Singer Maria-Aliya Nasir, a freshman psychology major, brought “Ikaw (You),” an original Filipino music ballad, to life.

The original lyrics in Tagalog were translated into English on the projector behind Nasir, but her singing transcended meaning and evoked emotion from audience members that cheered out from the rafters.

Starting off the second act, the four-musician ensemble Miyazaki Medley did a tribute to renowned filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi.

The string instruments and piano came together to create a calming yet riveting piece, as clips from Studio Ghibli movies played.

The Barkada Dancers were greeted by a roar of applause, and continued to wow the audience with fancy footwork to hip-hop songs that made full use of the speakers’ bass.

The eight script writers could not find a way to smoothly transition into the Maglalatik dance performed by shirtless male dancers with coconut halves attached to their bodies.

The horcrux that segued between the two groups was a coconut — a sign of the coordinated handwork to come.

Audience members in the back waved their hands for the next act, Louis Kang, a senior interactive multimedia major who rapped along to Korean hip-hop.

Nearing the end of the night, TCNJ Taiko played an intense and loud arrangement of “Tatsumaki,” originally by Hiroshi Tanaka.

The drummers with serious expressions used the sides of the drums as well as the tops to finish off the show with a bang.

Emma Cheng, a sophomore interactive multimedia major and secretary for JSA, doubles as TCNJ Taiko’s secretary and publicist. Cheng was part of the Dragonflies and TCNJ Taiko.

“It was really fun feeling excited, hyped and nervous together with everyone,” Cheng said.

Freshman mathematics major Addy Wong is a member of AAA, KSA and JSA and performed as a Chinese yo-yoer and martial artist in the show. Wong was excited to be a part of the production.

“It was just fun to try something new and struggle with some friends along the way,” Wong said.

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