Audience loves ‘Formosa’
When European sailors traveled thousands of miles and arrived at the island of Taiwan for the first time, they gave it the name “Formosa,” meaning “Beautiful Island” in Portuguese. Last Saturday, the Brandeis Undergraduate Taiwanese Student Association hosted “Love, Formosa,” a culture show that centered around the Taiwanese traditions of love and how they fit into the modern world. The show featured great performances, fun dating games and, of course, amazing food and Boba.
Kicking off the show was a “speed dating” video made by the TSA E-board. Following the theme of love and relationships, each member of the board was introduced as the perfect date based on their living style and talents, whether it was their love for Uniqlo clothing, collection of stuffed animals or passion for naps. This parody of posts often seen on the popular Facebook group “Subtle Asian Dating” had everyone laughing out loud.
The first act of the show was a band called Mismatch, consisting of five Chinese students from Brandeis. They performed a mashup of “Secrets I Can’t Tell” and “Tornado,” two popular songs by Jay Chou, one of the most successful Taiwanese musicians in the last two decades. Both songs are very vocally demanding for the singer but were well-delivered, thanks to the excellent vocal skills of Myles Gui ’21.
Following Mismatch were two dancing sequences, performed by guest dancers from the acclaimed Chu Ling Dance Academy. The first one was a fan dance: The dancers would switch between mirroring each other and dancing individually while not disrupting the coordination of the group. After this was a solo ribbon dance. Waving a colorful ribbon, the dancer moved elegantly while forming captivating patterns with the rhythm. Though it appeared to be slightly difficult for her to fully control the ribbon that was many times her height, the dancer’s effort still won waves of applause.
In between the dance performances, three pairs of audience members were invited onto the stage to play a Brandeisian version of the newlywed game. All the questions were Brandeis-related, such as “what’s your go-to order at Einstein’s,” which had both the people onstage and offstage involved in the game.
After a brief intermission, the second half of the show opened with Junshu and Company, a returning guest music group from Berklee College of Music. The musicians first performed two covers of songs from acclaimed Taiwanese-American singer Leehom Wang. A lot of people immediately recognized the music and started waving their flashlights to the rhythm. After that, the band performed an original, “Call Me Whatever,” which was a change of tone but still excellent.
Following the guest musicians was the Brandeis hip-hop dance group XL Girls. Well-known in the Boston area, the group electrified the audience with their powerful moves, showing that there is more than just graceful traditional dances in Taiwanese culture. After that was the e-board dance in which all of the TSA board members performed their own original dance. Utilizing the advantage of its size, the group’s performance was not so complicated but extremely well-coordinated, which shows how much effort the board put in.
Lastly, after a bit of adjustment of the sound system, the show brought out its final star, Nix Tan. An amazing singer who can switch between Mandarin and English freely, Nix shared the important moments of her life. Growing up as an Asian American in both Malaysia and the U.S., Nix uploaded her first singing video eight years ago. In 2012, she woke up one morning with tens of thousands of new followers, which jump-started her career as a YouTube artist. Even though she is now a prominent internet star with hundreds of thousands of followers, Nix didn’t shy away from sharing her genuine feelings with Brandeis students. She opened herself up to the audience like she was talking to a group of friends. When she finished her last song, the audience showed their love with cheering and applause.
While the quality of performances cannot be overstated, the TSA E-board who hosted the show did a terrific job, not only connecting the sections of the show but also making it entertaining and fun with games and sketches. Being there for two and a half hours, I could hardly find the right time to take a break to go the restroom because everything was so well-connected. “Love, Formosa” was a tremendous success, and the credit goes to both the performers and the TSA board.