The Chinese Student Association and Taiwanese American Students Club brought a lineup of professional and student performers to Cahn Auditorium to ring in the Year of the Rat at Celebrasia 2020 on Feb. 15. The event showcased a variety of acts, from music to dance to magic.
The process of finding acts started as early as November. McCormick senior and CSA co-president Kevin Zheng said the clubs wanted to book performers who would be exciting for a Northwestern audience.
“It’s just a matter of who we think will garner the most hype, or what Asian American influencers are in the entertainment industry right now.”
Preparations for the show itself began in January, with multiple committees involved in the planning process. These included Publicity, which created promotional material for the event, and Decoration, which was in charge of decorating Cahn for the event.
With the Chinese Year of the Rat having begun on Jan. 25, the video skits that played throughout the show parodied Pixar’s Ratatouille. Entitled “Rat in the Hat,” the skits told the story of Dump Ling, who tries to win Lin Gui Ni’s affection by competing in a cooking competition with the help of a rat.
Following the first video skit, Typhoon Dance Troupe, a student group focused on highlighting traditional and contemporary Asian dance, took the stage. The group performed a routine choreographed to traditional music in which dancers wielded parasols.
Katherine Ho, the first outside performer of the night, was next on the lineup. The singer-songwriter from Los Angeles is best known for her Mandarin cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” which was featured in the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack. She performed that song at Cahn, accompanied by CSA’s External President Tiger Nie on guitar.
The next act was K-Dance, Northwestern’s K-Pop dance group. The group, which was founded by first-year students last year, made its Celebrasia debut with a series of energetic dance routines set to Korean pop music.
Korean-Canadian beatboxer KRNFX followed. He flexed his vocal chords with a rapid-fire sequence of beats produced entirely using his voice, at times sampling and looping his own voice to create complex layered arrangements. His set also included a medley of XXXTENTACION’s “Look At Me!,” Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang,” and Rich Brian’s Dat $tick,” which garnered him nearly 2 million views on YouTube.
Northwestern Treblemakers, NU’s premier East Asian-interest a capella group, took the stage next. The group’s set included a cover of “Don’t Ask (別問很可怕)” by Jsheon. Bienen freshman and soloist Ray Hou, who performed entirely in Mandarin, said that the song actually contains dark undertones.
“It’s about [the protagonist’s] girlfriend getting so jealous that he ended up killing his girlfriend. But the vibe is good, and I feel like it would be a chill song to sing in this kind of setting, so I chose it,” Hou said.
After a brief intermission, Refresh Dance Crew performed. While the urban dance team had some initial technical difficulties with music coming in late, they recovered and performed an explosive set to songs such as “Attention” by Rich Brian, “Motivation” by Normani and “Limbo” by Daddy Yankee. Medill sophomore and Refresh dancer Tracy Zhang said she was happy about the performance.
“It feels good to work with everyone and put something together as a group,” Zhang said.
The next professional act was Ryan Hayashi, the self-proclaimed “samurai madman of magic.” He performed close-up magic using playing cards and coins, including his “Ultimate Matrix” coin act that appeared on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us in 2018.
The final act of the night was the event’s headliner, singer-songwriter Sam Tsui. Tsui, who has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube, brought out his frequent collaborator (and husband!) Casey Breves. The duo performed a mashup of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One” as well as “The Promise,” which was featured in the couple’s wedding video.
After the show ended, audience members lined up for a meet and greet with the guest performers. Crowd reactions to the show were largely positive.
“I really liked all the guest performers they had. Every single one of them was incredibly amazing,” said Communication sophomore Sam Liu. “When Sam Tsui brought in his husband, I was like, ‘Yes, gay rights.’”
Editor's note: NBN's Entertainment Editor Joan Gwak performed in Celebrasia and thus did not edit this article.