Seattle University (Traditional - Đêm Chôn Dầu Vượt Biển)

Most Outstanding Performance Nomination: Seattle University

Performance Title: Đêm Chôn Dầu Vượt Biển

This is a dance to Đêm Chôn Dầu Vượt Biển to artistically depict a very painful memory. The first half of the dance begins with lanterns, symbolizing the light needed to lead the way on this journey. Halfway through, the lanterns must be put away because that light can no longer guide them on this journey as the escape must be done discreetly. The dance becomes a partner dance to show the different relationships that tenderly must part ways. With the scarves, we hoped to depict the imagery of the water and waves that the escapees will face. In the end, there is yelling and commotion as loved ones become separated symbolically representing the many places those fleeing may have lost their loved ones, perhaps before the boat leaves or perhaps on the boat itself while on the treacherous waters. In the end, a tide rips the refugees apart, half moving onward in the journey, half fading away into nothingness, yet bidding those successful onward.

The successes of the performance do not simply come from its successful execution. Rather, it’s the emotions the performance stirred, the history it showcased, and the legacy it maintained. It is perhaps the thing I’m most proud of in my VSA career because it made all the parents in the room cry and all performance attendees emotional. It’s something the club has never dared to do in the past and got immediate tears and sobs from members at the first rehearsal. My mom texted me the day after and told me she was sitting in bed just rewatching the performance over and over again for 30 minutes. To her, the performance was “a beautiful way to showcase something so awful in our history”.

Additional Information

The dance was performed as part of our cultural show honoring the immigrant experience, specifically the boat refugee experience. It falls in the skit when the three siblings are trying to escape Vietnam. In the first minute, the three siblings begin their escape. The performance follows suit and features the three siblings. The show continues on at the end of the skit following the loss of the two brothers. Because the performance falls so naturally in a greater story, links have been provided for the specific performance as well as the entire skit.