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‘Asian Allure’ cultural showcase celebrates finding community

Growing up in the Philippines, junior Liyanna Baloca said she never labeled herself as “Asian.”

“I grew up around Filipinos my whole life,” she recalled. “Being Asian wasn’t something I felt I had to label myself as because it was just normal.”

Then, she said, she arrived at Notre Dame and was suddenly no longer part of the majority.

As a freshman, Baloca attended Campus Ministry’s Asian first-year retreat. There, she said she met some of her closest friends and was first introduced to Notre Dame’s Asian community — a community, she said, has profoundly shaped her Notre Dame experience.

Now, Baloca is the marketing director of the Filipino-American Student Organization, a member of the Asian American Association (AAA) and the director of this year’s annual “Asian Allure” cultural showcase.

“Asian Allure” showcases traditional and modern cultural dance, music and art performances from AAA members and members of other student clubs including the Korean Student Association, South Asian Student Association, Filipino-American Student Organization, Japan Club and Chinese Culture Society.

Performances this year include KPop music, a “Bollywood Medley,” a traditional Chinese fan dance, a Japanese flute performance, a fashion show and more.

“There are also a lot of like solo acts where people are performing or singing songs from their respective cultures,” said sophomore Luke Gil, event coordinator for AAA and “Asian Allure.”

“Asian Allure” takes place Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 at the LaFortune Student Center box office or for $7 at the door.

Founded in 1996 (and taking a year off during the 2020 pandemic), “Asian Allure” is now in its 25th year. Baloca said she selected this year’s theme, “Home Coming,” to reflect her personal experience finding community, an experience she feels much of the Asian community shares.

“So it’s basically the idea that if I hadn’t gone to the Asian first-year retreat in my freshman year, I wouldn’t be where I am now — directing the ‘Asian Allure’ cultural showcase,” Baloca said. “It’s kind of about how this one choice I made in my freshman year put me into this community… that’s so ingrained in my Notre Dame experience.”

In between performances, Baloca said, “Asian Allure” will follow a storyline where older students try to get freshmen to join in on the showcase and bring them into the community.

Gil said the showcase is not only about bringing together the different Asian clubs on campus, but also the Notre Dame community as a whole.

“Personally, I never came to Notre Dame expecting anything like this to even be possible, so when I first got involved with ‘Asian Allure’ last year as a freshman, it truly was amazing to see all this diverse culture represented at Notre Dame,” Gil said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who haven’t really experienced… cultures outside of their own to just come and watch people work together and put on a show.”

Contact Claire Reid at creid6@nd.edu.

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University sponsors Spanish flamenco performances, cultural events week

Through a week of public performances, a lecture, a dance workshop and a cooking class, flamenco dancer Jaime El Estampio and guitarist Antonio Herrera promise to bring “the magic of Spain” to South Bend.

The week of events celebrating Spanish culture, which takes place Monday, Nov. 7 through Friday, Nov. 11, was organized by Notre Dame teaching professors of Spanish Tatiana Botero and Elena Mangione-Lora.

Mangione-Lora said the duo’s goal is to make interesting cultural events accessible to their students and to the community.

“We want to connect the events to big, relevant questions,” she said.

The week will kick off Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. with a public flamenco performance by El Estampio and Herrera at La Casa de Amistad, 3423 S. Michigan St., South Bend. The free-but-ticketed event is open to all.

“It’s going to be amazing, but the most amazing thing of all is the generosity of these two musicians. They were both engaged in community building and healing through their flamenco master Torombo and his school in Seville, Spain,” Mangione-Lora said. “They visited prisons, the elderly and especially centers for the recovery of drug addiction and promote healing through synchronicity, connectedness and being in tune with community.”

Mangione-Lora said she discovered El Estampio online during the pandemic when she was trying to learn how to sing flamenco “cantes,or songs After speaking with the dancer a few times, she said she realized his talent for engaging students.

Botero said, for two semesters, she and Mangione-Lora invited El Estampio to give virtual lectures to Notre Dame students. Students “fell in love with his charisma, energy and natural teaching abilities,” she said.

“The students were very enthusiastic about the visit in their reflections and evaluations. We even got word that there was an uptick in applications to the Toledo, Spain, study abroad program,” Mangione-Lora said.

The next year, in 2021, Botero and Mangione-Lora brought El Estampio to the South Bend Civic Theatre and Holy Cross Elementary School to perform for the community and local students.

Botero said this year will include more local school visits and greater involvement from Notre Dame students.

“We know the impact live performances and access to the artist have on the students,” Botero said. “We have worked hard to make the events … accessible to all. We wanted to make sure that buying a ticket was not an obstacle to come and enjoy the history and movement that forged flamenco.”

Notre Dame International and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, both sponsors of the week’s events, also have a goal for the events: “To open hearts and minds toward Europe … to really see the margins and to recognize and celebrate the international locally,” Mangione-Lora said.

“Flamenco does all of these things,” she continued. “It is one of the most recognizable art forms to come from Spain, but it was born of the margins of the persecuted Roma people originally from the east with contributions from Spaniards, Africans from the south and instruments from the South American continent like the cajón from Peru.”

A week celebrating art and emotion

Following Monday’s performance, Tuesday afternoon will feature a public lecture on the Notre Dame campus in 305 Bond Hall.

The lecture by associate professor of anthropology Alex Chavez, titled “Verses and Flows: Migrant Lives and the Sounds of Crossing,” will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday night, students will have the opportunity to get off-campus and attend a flamenco dance workshop put on by South Bend Latin Dance.

The workshop takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. at Ironhand Wine Bar, and attendees can stay afterward to put their newly-acquired dance skills into practice. The workshop is $15.

Thursday night will feature another free-but-ticketed performance by El Estampio and Herrera, this time on campus in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Leighton Concert Hall at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be reserved online at dpactickets.nd.edu.

Finally, Friday will conclude the week with two fun, interactive events. At 5 p.m., Carolynn Hines-Johnson of Spanish Rose Dance Studio, a small flamenco studio in South Bend, will host a flamenco workshop.

“It’s really special … because there is little access to authentic flamenco close to South Bend, even in Chicago,” Mangione-Lora said. “Last year, we had people come from Goshen, Chicago and Indianapolis.”

At 7 p.m., the Spanish Club will hold a cooking class. To sign up or get more information on the cooking class, email ND.spanish1@nd.edu.

Mangione-Lora said she encourages students to get dressed up and enjoy the week’s events with friends.

“The week is a celebration of art as movement, as a means of expression, as [a] channel for pain, anxiety, loneliness, as a refuge from persecution, as a proud manifestation of identity,” she said. “It is an invitation to share in the history, beauty, pain, movement and joy that is flamenco and an invitation to community as we experience it together.”