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Western VSA IGNITES in Toronto

On Saturday, March 10, Western’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) travelled to Toronto to compete in Ignite XX, the 20th annual Vietnamese cultural competition hosted by UVSA Ontario. VSAs from the University of Toronto (Mississauga and St. George campuses), Ryerson, Ottawa/Carleton, McMaster, and Waterloo gathered at the intimate Al Green Theatre to perform at the sold-out show.

          Photo courtesy of Western VSA 

Each VSA was given a unique subject under this year’s overarching theme, Âm Nhạc và Kỷ Niệm (Melody and Memory), upon which to base a short, 10-minute play. Western’s show was inspired by “New Beginnings,” and incorporated acting and singing (both in Vietnamese and in English) with traditional fan dancing and modern hip-hop. In the comedic and emotional play, a young girl (Michelle) suffers from partial amnesia after a car accident. We follow her as her friends support her through her struggles and help her rediscover who she is and what it means to start again.  

From playwriting and choreographing to auditioning and practicing, the 21-person team practiced for several months. Several rehearsals ran well past midnight as countless hours were spent perfecting expressions, sharpening dance steps, and building stage chemistry. Despite the long hours, Ignite coordinator Toby Le said, “This team has some of the hardest working people I know. We all work together to build each other up—that’s the most rewarding part of Ignite. Throughout the process, we grow together, learn together, and ultimately, we become a family.”

The performance day was both nerve-wracking and exciting. Being at the theatre from 10 A.M. until 10 P.M., the team had plenty of opportunities to bond with each other and members of the other VSAs. At the end of the night, the first, second, and third prizes went to University of Toronto Mississauga, University of Toronto St. George, and Ryerson University respectively. Although Western did not take home a placing, they were recognized for selling the most tickets (78) for the second year in a row, demonstrating their strong school spirit and commitment to VSA. Even though Ignite is a competition, there was a notable lack of hostility among the competitors and everyone celebrated each other’s accomplishments together after the show at a lively after-party.

Western VSA President and UVSA Social Media Coordinator, Jerick Nguyen, was extremely proud of Western’s performance. Having to constantly run between his responsibilities as an event organizer with UVSA and an actor with VSA Western, he said, “I’m exhausted, but honestly, it was all worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We had fun, performed with passion, and gave it our all. That’s still a win in my books.”

While they are already anticipating next year’s competition, Western VSA can reminisce about this year’s hard work by rewatching their final performance, courtesy of Victor Nguyen. Check it out here!

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