Led by Pan Asian Arts Alliance, local Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) arts groups came together to host the first ever Pan Asian Arts Festival, Part I: Festival/Asian Style, a Family Day Celebration of May Asian Heritages, on May 1 at the Landmark Center. About fifteen hundred people attended and enjoyed five hours of fun. The event from noon to 5 p.m. included Asian storytelling, cultural dances, music performed by the Chinese Music Ensemble, Asian food, Henna body tattoos, face painting, carnival games, and much more.

 Led by Pan Asian Arts Alliance, local Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) arts groups came together to host the first ever Pan Asian Arts Festival, Part I: Festival/Asian Style, a Family Day Celebration of May Asian Heritages, on May 1 at the Landmark Center. About fifteen hundred people attended and enjoyed five hours of fun. The event from noon to 5 p.m. included Asian storytelling, cultural dances, music performed by the Chinese Music Ensemble, Asian food, Henna body tattoos, face painting, carnival games, and much more.

There were at total of 21 dances from 15 different dance academies and three well-known storytellers: Vietnamese story teller Phước Thị Minh Trần, Indian story teller Bilquis Dairkee and Korean story teller Eh Taw Dwe.

Modern Indian Dance Academy R.G.K. Dance & Fitness Studio opened up the dance performances around 12:30 p.m. RGK combines Indian classical music fused with contemporary western dances. The first dance depicted a theme of victory, and another dance depicted a theme of love.

Following RGK was Minnesota Chinese Dance Theater (MCDT), which performed to "Yun Yang Castanets." MCDT was founded in 1992 by Ms. Tianjiang Cui. It is a community performing group of 20 dancers ages range from 6 to 60. The Sumunar Dance Ensemble performed a blend of classical court dances, folk dances incorporating the martial arts, and new choreographies using traditional and modern movements. Beautiful masks and vibrant costumes related the stories told by the dancers and musicians as they danced to "Panen Dance."   

Heroes, Rainbow, and Hmong Baby Dolls dance groups, choreographed by well-known dance teachers Mai Vang and Jennie Vang. Heroes, an energetic all-boys dance group, performed a drum dance, "Warrior". Their second routine, "Country Boys", depicted the days of Hmong boys meeting up to learn kung fu for self-defense. Both Rainbow Dance and Hmong Baby Dolls, wearing traditional Hmong costume, danced beautifully to Hmong folk music.

 

Hoang Anh Vietnamese Dance Group performed "Don Xuan." The group has been performing for the past 8 years at various cultural festivals and events throughout the Twin Cities with the purpose of helping promote and preserve the Vietnamese culture through song and dance. 

Later the show turned the focus to North Asian with the "Doll Dance" (or Puppet Dance) and "Fan Dance", performed by Mu Gung Hwa Korean Dance Academy, which illuminates the Korean culture. One of the traditional games during the Korean Lunar Year festival is dramatized in the "Doll Dance." Each participant makes and decorates a beautiful Korean doll. Then she manipulates the doll she has made, puppet fashion, in the various movements of the dance. Here, the Mu Gung Hwa dancers actually become the dolls and give their interpretation of this ancient "Puppet Dance" of the New Year. Another traditional dance, "Fan Dance", widely regarded as the most unique Korean traditional dance, this splendid dance with luxurious dresses and brilliant fans of painted blossoms illustrates the beauty of vivid colors and the harmony of group movements.

 

Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center danced "The Little Girls with Penguins" choreographed by Huanru Zhang. These adorable penguins and playful little girls had such a good time playing together! This light-hearted dance encouraged everyone to protect the environment in order to continue the harmony between humans and nature. 

The Japanese dance group Sansei Yonsei Kai was formed over 35 years ago, and continues the long-standing tradition of the Japanese American community in the Twin Cities. Made up of multicultural dancers, Sansei Yonsei Kai fosters the understanding and awareness of Japanese culture through the recreation and presentation of traditional and contemporary ethnic dances. They performed two folk dances: "Sukiyaki" and "Fuji."

 

The Cultural Society of Filipino-Americans Dance Troupe danced to two songs, each connected to the other, "Cordillera Festival Dance" and "Ragragsakan." The Cultural Society of Filipino-Americans (CSFA) is a non-profit organization with a mission to preserve, promote, and share valued Filipino custom and traditions through cultural, educational, social, and philanthropic activities. 

From Bhutanese dance group, Renuka Humagai and Shara Motey, danced to "Mati Ghar." The song is about the time after a couple gets married, they will go to the husband's house, but the home of his parents' house is at "mati ghar."

 

Moonlight, and Fireflies dance groups, are made up Hmong girls ages of 9 to 13 years old. They come from Dao Lan Dance School, which is tailored to the Hmong community and open to students of all ages and sexes, consists of approximately 80 students or 6 classes ranging from ages 6 to 45 years old.           

Last but not least, with over 40 dancers, Karen Cultural Organization of Minnesota performed "Karen Done Dance" and "Karen Traditional Dance", with live music and drum.   The "Festival/Asian Style" ended with the music performance by the Minnesota Chinese Music Ensemble, with the theme of "100 Years of Journey:  Remember the Past, Honor the Present, Celebrate the Future". The music ensemble had carefully selected music pieces that were composed at specific times or that reflect significant events from various eras during the past 100 years. 

 

The "Festival/Asian Style" event kicked off a month-long celebration of the May Pan-Asian Heritage Month. It included the following events: 

●      Part II: Pan Asian Dance Festival, May 29* at Burnsville Performing Arts Center, a 2-day dance event at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, featuring the top talents from local Pan Asian Dance troupes. (*Saturday May 28 activity CANCELED) 

●      Part III: Photo Exhibition, "100 Years of Chinese American History in MN, from 1911- 2011", May 1-June 13 at the Landmark Center.

 

This unique project is sponsored by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund from MN State Arts Board (which that was created by a vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov., 2008.), City of St Paul's Cultural Star Grant, and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC). 

The advisory committee included: Asian Media Access, Dao Lan Dance Studio, Hoang Anh Vietnamese Dance Group, James Lee, MN Sunshine Dance, MN Ocean Dance, Mu Gung Hwa Korean Dance Group, Pan Asian Story-Tellers Association, Sansei Yonsei Kai Japanese Children and Adult Dance Group, and Sumunar Indonesian Dance Ensemble, c/o Indonesian Performing Arts Association of Minnesota.

 

For more information, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 612-376-7715 or www.panasianartsalliance.org. 

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