Lunar New Year Festival introduces Vietnamese lotus dance

Annual showcase is Feb. 8 and 9 at Edison Theatre

The Lunar New Year Festival returns to Edison Theatre Feb. 8-9. (Video: Tom Malkowicz and James Byard/Washington University) 

Washington University in St. Louis senior Megan Khu wanted to introduce Lunar New Year audiences to Vietnamese dance. But first she needed to learn one.

“I’ve never had any training, so I had to watch every video I could find,” Khu said. “But it was important to me to represent our small community at Lunar New Year. People know Japanese anime and Korean K-pop, but few are familiar with all Vietnamese culture has to offer.”

Khu and co-choreographer Karen Chen, also a senior, will lead 14 dancers in a lotus dance during Lunar New Year’s celebration of the Year of the Pig. The lotus is the national flower of Vietnam.

“The lotus flower blooms in muddy water so it stands as a symbol of beauty and optimism — the belief that you can overcome even the worst circumstances,” Khu explained.

Though beloved for its elegance and beauty, the lotus dance still posed a challenge for Khu and Chen. The traditional version can be slow and subdued, and Washington University’s Lunar New Year Festival is anything but. The choreographers’ solution: add dubstep.

We feel the combination of traditional and modern elements really pays homage to Vietnamese culture and brings the energy you expect at our Lunar New Year Festival, Khu said.

The Lunar New Year Festival is at  7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Edison Theatre in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6465 Forsyth Blvd.

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