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By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness in Minnetonka, Minn., began a year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary on May 20, 2010, by hosting a number of activities.  The inspirational celebration began with a gathering of members and guests, followed by dinner.

By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness in Minnetonka, Minn., began a year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary on May 20, 2010, by hosting a number of activities.  The inspirational celebration began with a gathering of members and guests, followed by dinner.

Afterwards the group assembled outside of the Center to participate in the unveiling of an important bronze abstract sculpture by the famous Chinese sculpture Zhu Ming. The sculpture, which stands nearly seven feet tall and stretches more than nine feet wide, depicts a tai chi form known as The Single Whip (also the name of the sculpture) and is symbolic of The Marsh philosophy of balance.

The sculpture now stands in front of the building looking out at Minnetonka Boulevard to provide a constant and stunning visual reminder of the importance of balance to everyone in the community who passes by.  Bob Jacobsen, Asian Art Chair Emeritus of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, states, “The Single Whip will be one of the most important contemporary sculptures by a Chinese artist on public view in the Twin Cities.”

The Eastern philosophy of yin and yang and the use of tai chi as a metaphor for taking care of ourselves and reaching out to other has been at the center of the Marsh philosophy for 25 years. Marsh visionary founder Ruth Stricker and her husband Bruce Dayton, who together opened The Marsh in the spring of 1985, purchased the Zhu Ming sculpture four years ago. They have since had it in storage, waiting for the appropriate time and place to install it. 

m12After the unveiling of the sculpture, there were champagne toasts and special presentations along with special performances by Chungliang Al Huang and David Darling.  Huang is a tai ji dance master and Darling is a Grammy-award winning cellist.

Joining the two masters in celebrating The Marsh’s 25th Anniversary with additional toasts were Marsh members, staff, friends, neighbors and members of the community.

Following the outdoor activities, the gathering returned indoors to continue the celebration and participate in a program titled Balance: What It Means to Us. A slide presentation illuminated the shapes of The Marsh which in turn reflected on the shapes of our lives.  Stricker also shared the genesis of her dream 27 years ago and how it was absolutely vital that it be incorporated into the physical construction of the facility and how it would not have been possible without the support of her husband, Bruce Dayton. Dayton is not known to be a verbose person and this was appropriately illustrated in a presentation of some of his more memorable sayings.

The evening program continued with Huang and Darling joining in dance and music accompanied by local artists Benny Weinbeck and bass player Gordy Johnson.  Stricker later introduced her family and concluded the program by having a dialogue with Richard Leider a frequent speaker and workshop leader at The Marsh.  Before closing the program with refreshments, Stricker invited the group to join her in singing a song that has provided her with much of her inspiration, Climb Every Mountain from the Roger and Hammerstein musical Sound of Music.

The following day, Huang and Darling lead two separate two-hour tai ji workshops during which participants were encouraged to rediscover their creative genius and fulfill their potential as joyful beings by opening their hearts, minds and bodies through movement, breath and chanting.

In the evening these two masters performed The Tao of Poetic Imagination, an inspirational blend of tai ji dancing and music improvisation, ancient philosophical wisdom and Chinese poetry, inspiring music and Wu Wei (a Taoism concept that involves knowing when to act and when not to act) spontaneity.  Huang also recited timeless poems in both Chinese and English as he danced to Darling’s virtuosic cello improvisations.

The Marsh is a 67,000 square foot wellness center situated on the edge of a scenic Minnetonka wetland and is home to a medically-based wellness center, lap swimming andm14 warm water therapy pools, group exercise and Pilates studios, a full-service spa, an award-winning restaurant, a designer boutique, six overnight guest rooms and several unique meditative spaces.  The center’s art, architecture and programs reflect Stricker’s study and appreciation of Chinese culture.  The now popular lecture series features guest speakers from around the world who reflect her varied interests and passions, especially in engaging community members in conversation about their own health and wellbeing. Learn more at www.TheMarsh.com

Editor’s Note. Deb Garvey, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for The Marsh, contributed some material in the preparation of this article.

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