Asian American Dancers

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Inter-culturalism, or cross-culturalism, is a sufficient solution for multiple nationalities to live under the same environment; it encourages each nation understand and respect mutually while interacting with respective traditions. Inter-culturalism is built on top of recognition and acceptance of different cultures, contrary to auto-segregation and social differentiation. Dancing, as a way of visual and spiritual communication, accelerates the fusion among various cultures. During the process of designing the movement and participation in dance, the attitudes can be changed because instead of being informed with information from textbook or researches, people are experiencing the culture in the form of dancing physically. The power of dance is that the charm of the culture is exposed completely in front of both the participators and spectators.

The blending of cultures has brought a positive change in dancing because people have chances to experience, understand, and accept each other’s culture. There are many scholars and writers who are vaulted into taking an early lead in the tight relationship between cross-culturalism and dance. Yutian Wong, Sansan Kwan, and Donohue, Maura Nguyen discussed how modern dance reveals a declined working situation of Asian American dancers instead of an inter-cultural reconciliation involved as well as how dance is used as a tool for deploying imperatives of American Imperialism.

As an Asian American professor of Theater and Dance Department, Yutian Wong is able to exercise great autonomy in addressing the closed connection and conflict between Orientalism and American Imperialism through creative choreographies. She first mentioned several “racisms” of Asian American dancers: their performances must be related to “red” and the evaluation to them is based on how “red” and how Asian they are. Asian dance can never be modern. Those critiques of race have only called attentions on black and white conflict while Asians and Asian Americans identities are discriminated and ignored.

Being a model minority did not help wipe out Westerners’ assumption, imaginations, or lucid dreams about the Orient. “Asian American culture has been stereotyped as a foreign import eternally at odds with indigenized American narratives of European immigrant culture” (Lowe 1996, pp.1-36) The East, or the Orient, is determined as silent and unable to speak for themselves. This distorted knowledge of Westerners to East and silence of East defines significant imbalance of power and results wild expansion of American Imperialism and at the same time, aggravates the conceive of unchanging.

Donohue Maura is an assistant professor in Hunter College. She published her paper “Between Two Worlds” in Dance Magazine. She shares some ideas with Yutian Wong which Asian American dancers and choreographers find themselves straddle with two different cultures, and they belong to or are accepted in neither of them. She illustrates the fact that Asian American dancers are struggling with finding jobs and make a living. “Like finding the needle”, said by an Asian American dancer named Guan.

From a Westerner’s perspective, defining someone as Asian is not only dependent on his or her appearance, but also behavior, attitude, and even smell deepened inside the body. If we retrospect the history, the possession of greater power decides the way to know and understand cultures of powerless groups. This type of authority and domination has rooted construction linked to the primary of Orientalism and American Imperialism. It is obvious to see an image of declining “the Oriental” in modern dance from Donohue Maura’s article. These Asian American dancers and choreographers are isolated; although they were born and raised in U.S. territory, they have no difference with Asians. They are also “abandoned” from the original Asian side.

These negativities show the failure of Interculturalism: American audiences did not accept others’ culture along with the imbalance of power, they are capable to choose what believe and how to understand the Oriental culture. It has exposed the mock of Asian culture and this cultural appropriation does reflect the negative interaction between two different cultures. Sansan Kwan is an assistant professor in University of California, Berkeley; she focuses her studies on Asian and Asian American performance of Theater Dance and Arts.

In her paper “Performing a Geography of Asian Americans”, by using an example of how successful those Chop Suey Circuit entertainers try to “perform Asian” choreographies such as fan dance and coolie dance but in fact, blurring the boundaries of “racial otherness”, she exposes a savage and cruel “racial hierarchy system” among all cultures. Furthermore, Asian and Asian Americans are both categorized as minorities and the Oriental culture are not accounted mostly in modern dance (Kwan 6). While Asian American dancers put all their effort on distinguishing themselves, the West has created their preferable way to view Asian dance and the existence of those mimicking Chop Suey Circuit entertainers are the strongest proof of this polite racism.

Above all, Asian American dancers’ oppression becomes defined as a problem of Asian Americanness, as part of the Oriental cultures. The question of national, racial hierarchy system needs to be opened up. Promoting real culture interaction, particular oriental discourse and avoid any kinds of earnest mock is the approach to the question.

Cite this paper

Asian American Dancers. (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/asian-american-dancers/

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