Asia Night breaks down barriers with a barrage of fun

Large ensemble dances, like the one shown here from 2012, are among the high points of Asia Night. Photograph by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

Asia Night at Bates promises to be “diverse and exciting with funky bright costumes, flashy jewelry, dancing and craziness!” says Sheena Malik, a Bates senior from Gurgaon, India, who is choreographing the Bollywood-style dances on this year’s program.

Sponsored by the student organization Sangai Asia, this variety show spotlighting Asian culture and heritage takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26, in Schaeffer Theatre, 305 College St.

Admission is open to the public at no cost. For more information, please contact or

Launched at Bates in 2006, Asia Night this year opens with a performance of Indonesian music by the Bates Gamelan Orchestra and concludes with a finale by the Bates Bollywood Masti group, presenting a medley titled “Wedding Scenario.”

The eight acts in between range from Japanese “taiko” drum performances to traditional Chinese and Japanese dance.

Friday’s show follows Bates’ annual Arts Crawl, a showcase of student creativity in the visual, literary and performing arts, which is also open to the public.

Advancing diversity is a bedrock value at Bates, and Asia Night makes that plain, says Malik. “Bates was one of the first colleges to accept women and people of color, and this openness and acceptance really comes across on Asia Night.

“It’s a forum for everyone and anyone who wants to participate and share their culture.”

The co-presidents of Sangai Asia are juniors Erik Bou of Cranston, R.I., and Hannah Siegel of Tokyo. Bou and Siegel are arranging the program, coordinating rehearsals, publicizing the event and working closely with the theater and dance department to bring Asia Night to life.

The event “gives members of Sangai Asia an opportunity to connect and to find comfort in being surrounded by people that have shared or similar experiences,” says Siegel. And it introduces new students to Sangai Asia and encourages them to share their own experiences and backgrounds with the Bates community, adds Bou.

Michael Reidy, theater department chair and managing director of theater and dance, notes that non-Asian students perform side by side with their Asian classmates and friends. “It’s a testament to the barrier-breaking effect of our diverse campus.”