K-Nite blends history with pop culture
When it comes to building up hype for a show, the Brandeis Korean Student Association is a team of professionals. Over the past few weeks, they have plastered every door, hallway and staircase on campus with flyers advertising the annual K-Nite, a compilation of Korean culture, history, music and dance, which blends both traditional and modern aspects of Korea into one two-hour-long event.
Levin Ballroom itself was inviting and representative of the effort put into the event. Tables were set up to allow attendees to sit in small intimate groups, rather than the traditional auditorium setting. Each table had a centerpiece resembling the design of South Korea's flag and pamphlets on Korean culture. In addition, every attendee was given a program and two chocolate coins engraved with "BKSA."
This year's highly anticipated show invited audience members to "Explore Korea." Emcees Christina Sulgee Lee '14, Rebekah Lee '14 and Jennifer Sae Buel Kim '14 acted as tour guides in between performances and introduced the audience to various iconic cities and historic sites in Korea, such as Hongdae, a college town with a modern atmosphere, and Bukchon Hanok, a traditional village. There were also film clips of daily life in South Korea interspersed between acts.
After BKSA President Derek Jungwoo Cho '14 and Vice President Jung Park '14 gave a welcome speech, K-Nite opened with two acts new to the line-up this year: the Instrumentals and Samulnori. The Instrumentals, an all-Brandeis student ensemble, played Korea's unofficial national anthem "Arirang" and "Onara," the theme song of the Korean drama Dae Jang Geum. Samulnori, a division of the recently chartered Korean Performing Arts Club, played the traditional Korean percussion instruments janggu, buk, gwengari and jing. The drumming started out steady, but increased in intensity, which could be seen in the performers' faces. One student lifted his drum over his head at one point, impressing the audience.
The show transitioned into the more modern side of Korean culture with a performance by K-Soul, an a cappella group from Boston University. K-Soul opened with the G-Dragon remix of "This Love," originally by Maroon 5, and continued into "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbinson. Although they ran into some technical difficulties with their microphones not working at first, the all-male five-member group was a hit with the crowd. The audience often cheered and clapped along during the songs. The members of K-Soul finished their act in true gentlemanly style, with each singer presenting a rose to a member of the audience.
K-Nite also explained Korea's history through a skit depicting a folktale. The tour guides explained beforehand about the presence of folktale villages in Korea, which are towns that are considered "recreations" of traditional Korean culture. This particular skit told the story of two brothers Heungbu and Nolbu. Heungbu is poor, yet kind and generous, while Nolbu, who is wealthy, is also greedy and selfish. Heungbu and his family are later rewarded with riches for showing kindness toward an injured swallow, and Nolbu, jealous of his brother's new prosperity, attempts to solicit the same fortune from the swallow, but ends up being presented instead with trash. K-Nite's performance of the folktale emphasized generosity and the dangers of greediness. The actors successfully incorporated humor into the play, with a few students dressed in Angry Birds costumes.
After a 15-minute intermission, the program continued with a heavy focus on music and dance. The KSA band performed "First Poem" by Shin Sung-Woo and "Red Sunset," which was originally by the South Korean singer Lee Moon Sae and later remade by the well-known South Korean rock band YB. The band showed off its powerful vocals and talented musicians. While "First Poem" was slower and closer to a ballad, "Red Sunset" was more upbeat and transitioned well into the subsequent dance acts.
Modern Dance, an act with an all-Brandeis student dance team, took the stage with Taeyang's "Wedding Dress." The dancers moved smoothly, with fluid hip-hop-influenced moves. The tempo picked up with dance covers of "Please Don't Go" by CL and Minzy from the group 2NE1 and T-ARA's "I Go Crazy Because of You." The act finished with "Chulsa" by No Hong Chul and Psy and for which dancers donned brightly colored shirts and sunglasses, matching the song's fun and upbeat tone. All of the dances were high energy and well-coordinated and smoothly transitioned between songs with the performers rarely missing a step.
Bulletproof Funk, a dance group that was also from BU, next performed to both Western and Korean music. The performance was set up as a mini-play, set at a bar, with the members playing characters such as waitresses and drunken customers. The dancers broke into smaller groups, taking turns performing. Bulletproof Funk also featured fluid transitions and extremely talented dancers, never failing to keep the audience's attention.
While Modern Dance and Bulletproof Funk exhibited bold and recent dance styles, the finale, which was the signature Fan Dance, was more traditional. Slower movements complemented the intricate handling of the fans, gracefully bringing the night to a close.
After the performances, a wide array of Korean dishes were served to the attendees. Although the lines for food seemed infinitely long, the meal was well worth the wait and filling, featuring a diverse selection of Korean dishes, including the signature dish kimchi.
Overall, the effort put into K-Nite 2012 was evident from every performance and the setup of the room itself. Although a few technical difficulties occurred during the show, K-Nite ran like clockwork.
The event was also inclusive, with both Korean and non-Korean performers in most of the acts. As someone who had never been to K-Nite before, I was impressed to see both the traditional and modern aspects of Korean culture combined into one performance, while being entertained throughout a fantastic show.
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