With roots in the Near East and Far East alike, the second annual Heritage Night at Herndon High School bridged a cultural divide through entertainment sponsored by the school’s Asian Club.
"We have over 200 people here which is really exciting," said Herndon High senior Minh-Chau Dinh, 17, of Reston. "This gets bigger each year ... this is an opportunity to have fun and learn something."
Dinh, who is a Tae Kwon Do black belt, was a multiple participant in the March 1 show. Aside from demonstrating her martial arts skills, she participated in a traditional Vietnamese dance and a Japanese Rice Dance.
"It’s tight, it’s cool," said Herndon High junior Saman Soheily, 16, of Herndon, who attended Heritage night with some friends. "This is fun to watch. It brings everyone together and gives people a chance to see different customs."
"I like the belly dancers," said Herndon High junior Michael Takahashi, 16, of Herndon. "This gives people a chance to demonstrate a part of their culture and for other people to learn where you’re from," he said.
AFTER COURTNEY WALKER SANG the national anthem, the show began with 12 acts ranging from break dancing to solo performances on cello, piano and guitar as well as dances from Indian, Vietnamese and Latino backgrounds.
Herndon High senior Ken Garcia, 19, ran the gamut, performing a guitar solo to lead off the performances and participating in the break dancing near the end of the show. For Garcia, his broken finger linked the two performances. He broke his finger during break dancing practice six weeks ago, but still performed his guitar solo.
"I plan to study music composition in Japan with classical guitar as the medium, said Garcia, who played a piece called "Suna No Hoshi," by Japanese composer Tsuneo Imahori.
In addition to the musical and dance acts, Heritage Night featured demonstrations of gymnastics and martial arts.
"It builds inner confidence and it’s a lot of fun," said Dinh of her nine years of martial arts.
"It builds discipline and shows that hard work pays off," said black belt Kurtis Thompson, 17, a Herndon High senior.
"I enjoyed this very much, particularly the Indian dance," said Herndon High freshman Kyzia Shanahan, 15, of Herndon. "It’s interesting to see all the other cultures."
"I also liked the Indian dance," said Vanessa Durant, 14, a Herndon freshman. "This is important because there are a lot of different cultures in our community. It’s a chance to show them off."
"THIS WENT WELL," said Herndon High senior Oriele Avalos, 18, of Sterling. "I hope this lasts and carries forward for next year. Many of the coordinators are graduating this year," said Avalos, adding that she enjoyed the Step Team. "They’re very talented. I can’t do that."
"They have impressive talent," said Herndon High School principal Janice Leslie. "This shows the diversity of the talent at the school. It helps the kids understand the nuances of the different cultures too."
"This event is really important," said Dinh. "We don’t see a lot of cultural diversity. This brings people together. It’s a learning experience for everybody and an opportunity to show pride in our cultures."