VSA’s ‘Notre Dame by Night’ will showcase Vietnamese cultural performances
Angela Mathew | Friday, February 10, 2023
“In Vietnamese the word ‘oi’ is so simple of a word that it only needs two letters ‘o’ and ‘i’ to evoke the deepest feeling and tenderness … the closest way to describe ‘oi’ is the feeling of being held,” sophomore Kat Le said during rehearsals for ‘Notre Dame By Night’.
The University’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) is putting on their annual cultural showcase ‘Notre Dame By Night’ at 7 p.m. on Friday in Washington Hall.
This year’s theme is ‘Tune in 4 Love’ and the show features traditional Vietnamese performances like the hat dance and the fan dance along with contemporary V-pop songs and dances. Food catered from local Asian restaurants like ‘Cre-Asian’ will be provided after the show and is included in the ticket price.
Senior Thanh Nguyen who is one of the directors of the show said this show’s performances are grouped under four themes – patriotism, kinship, romance and companionship.
“This year is essentially about love and the universality of love,” she said. “We wanted to demonstrate that through four themes. I know there’s definitely more types of love, but we wanted to show those types of love through Vietnamese cultural songs and performances.”
The show will also open with a performance by Vanessa Vo, a composer who blends Vietnamese and Western music genres in her work. Vo won an Emmy award for composing the soundtrack of “Bolinao 52” (2008), a documentary and has worked on the score for the Oscar nominated documentary, “Daughter from Danang” (2002).
Junior Viet Dang is president of VSA and is one of the directors of the show commented on the importance of inviting Vo to Notre Dame.
“This year, we’re inviting an outside artist, Vanessa Vo, to campus … this our first year doing that and we really want to show Vietnamese excellence,” she said.
For sophomore Rose Nguyen, another director of the show, cultural events like ‘Notre Dame By Night’ have been a way to make sure she doesn’t lose her Vietnamese culture while at college.
“I’m from Oklahoma City … which has a big Vietnamese population specifically … because the Catholic Church in Oklahoma was taking in refugees during the Vietnam War … so I was always surrounded by my Vietnamese community growing up, though I would say that I’m pretty … Westernized,” she said.
Nguyen said she joined clubs like VSA and the Asian American Association (AAA) her first year of college, in order to appease her father’s fears that she would not make any Vietnamese friends on campus.
“One day that year, my grandma who lives with us [at home] called me and normally I’m fluent in Vietnamese, but since I only speak the language with my grandma, the fact that I’d been so far away from her, meant I was struggling to speak. I think that something in me changed then … not being able to communicate made me think ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t lose my culture’,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen also talked about how cultural shows like ‘Notre Dame by Night’ can help students understand different regions of the world more deeply.
“For example, the significance behind our cultural dances is that we traditionally use hats while rice farming and these hats are what protects people from … UV rays. Going beyond that though, the show’s theme, ‘Tune in 4 Love’, touches on how people here in America and the Western world perceive love differently than in more Eastern cultures,” Nguyen said.
The show’s name ‘Notre Dame by Night’ is a pun on the long-running Vietnamese reality music show ‘Paris By Night’, according to Nguyen.
“… It’s an iconic Vietnamese show and they do skits, they do singing. I grew up with my parents having it on DVD … and the fact that our show is called ‘Notre Dame by Night’, like only we would understand but it’s so funny and it rings so well.”