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Mom, daughter to celebrate heritage through dance at Asian Fest

Asian Fest at Indiana Historical Society

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On the southwest side of Indianapolis, a mother and her daughter on Thursday practiced their dance moves for a Saturday festival.

Tina Magnusson and her 18-year-old daughter, Anna Magnusson, will perform with their dance troupe during the Asian Fest at the Indiana Historical Society in downtown Indianapolis. 

Anna will perform Mulan, a re-enactment of a Chinese poem. In the dance, she portrays the female warrior who disguises herself as a man to take her sickly father’s place in battle. It’s a familiar storyline from Walt Disney Pictures’ 1998 movie “Mulan.” Magnusson noted that the film is based on the original Chinese poem.

Anna’s movements during practice were quick with flips and leg raises. “The whole army has fallen, and she is trying to get back up,” she said.

She described Mulan as someone who “represents courage and perseverance,” but in a way, she also describes herself. “It’s very hard being the only Asian kid in a setting full of white Americans, not seeing myself represented in anything.”

Anna grew up in Indiana and felt different, but she’s also courageous. Instead of armor, she will don a costume and join her dance troupe to represent her culture.  

In contrast to Anna’s powerful dance moves, her mother, Tina Magnusson, on Thursday practiced the plum blossom fan dance with grace and slower movements. A dance teacher, she described the opening of a fan as symbol of growing flower. “The plum flower is a Taiwanese national flower because the colder it is. … They’re still growing so they represent endurance and perseverance inside all of us.”

The mother-and-daughter duo will share their love of dance, but, more than that, Tina says, it’s sharing something out of this world. “It feels like heaven. In heaven, it should be a different language, culture, skin color.”

In the United States, May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.