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East meets West in a stunning display of cultural fusion

By Natalie Sportelli '15 on April 25, 2012
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Red spotlights hit the stage of the Palace Theater, illuminating Dao Anh Khanh’s silhouette behind an opaque sheet, on April 6. As the performance artist began to move, each of Khanh’s calculated motions was synchronized with alternating colored lights, powerful noise, musical harmonies, video, and smoke. The overall effect was like moving art.

In its second year as a campus organization, the Colgate Vietnam Society (CVS) presented the show titled “East Meets West,” featuring Khanh. An internationally known performance artist from Vietnam, Khanh is inspired by both Western and traditional Eastern art. In the last five years, he has presented more than 20 performances worldwide. His Colgate visit  — only his sixth time in the United States — gave students the opportunity to see an innovative interpretation of Vietnamese performance art.

Dao Anh Khanh performing on stage with Colgate students at the Palace Theater

The Colgate Vietnam Society (CVS) presented the show “East Meets West,” featuring international performance artist Dao Anh Khanh

Joining Khanh were five Colgate student dancers whom he had personally trained in preparation for the show. Executing a unique array of dancelike motions, including some impressive acrobatics, Khanh and the student dancers performed harmoniously, feeding off of each other’s energy.

One of the dancers was Khan’s daughter, Jenny Tho Dao ’12, a member of the CVS who helped the group organize his visit to Hamilton. “All the dancers were fascinated with this kind of experimental art,” she said. “And it was a cool experience to be able to rehearse with my dad for this performance.”

Tue Nguyen ’14, also a CVS member, said, “[Khan’s] use of light and darkness was really interesting, especially at the point of the show when his silhouette was intertwining with the other shadows — that was amazing.”

Khanh, whose work is about crossing lines culturally and politically, explained his inspiration: “It’s the life of people from the people of Vietnam, America, and the people of the world. It’s about distance, culture, life, all coming together more and more.”

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