Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tallahassee Asian Festival Coming 9/29/07

Experience Asia 2007 - 3rd Annual Asian Coalition of Tallahassee Festival
Sharing the Asian Experience
Saturday, September 29
From 10am - 5pm
Downtown Tallahassee, Lewis and Bloxham Parks
(across from the Downtown Market)
Other Recent Readings of Interest @ IMD & the Village

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

University of Michigan Dragon Boat Festival Launches ChinaNow Theme Year

Dragon Boat Festival
Sunday, September 30, 10:00am-5:00pm
Gallup Park (2970 Fuller Rd.)

The first ever University-sponsored Chinese dragon boat race comes to Ann Arbor as part of a campus/community festival to launch the ChinaNow LSA Theme Year – a series of ground-breaking lectures, exhibitions, symposia, films, and performances building up to the 2008 Olympics.

Dragon boat races (the second most popular water sport in the world) are the heartbeat of the festival, a centuries old tradition in China. Teams of twenty paddlers per boat comprised of U-M departments, student organizations, and the community will race to drummer's beats in heats throughout the day. Activities on the banks of the river include a drum and gong procession (U-M Percussion Ensemble), lion dancing (Asian Martial Arts Studio), performances by high energy percussion group Groove, Chinese opera-style face painting, kite making, yo-yo spinning (Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan), food, and more. The festival is a green event to bring about greater awareness of natural resources, particularly water.

A collaboration with the U-M Center for Chinese Studies. Part of the ChinaNow LSA Theme Year series of outreach events.

Shen Wei Dance Theatre, "Second Visit to the Empress"

ANN ARBOR, MI (August 13, 2007) – Chinese choreographer Shen Wei makes his University Musical Society (UMS) debut with Second Visit to the Empress, a work that marries the traditions of Chinese Opera with contemporary dance. The three performances, Friday, September 28 through Sunday, September 30, open UMS’s 07/08 season in Ann Arbor’s Power Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to his trademark visual and modern movement style, Shen Wei brings nearly ten years of opera training at its highest level in his native China to this production. Considered one of the best written music and vocal pieces in the entire Chinese Opera repertory, Second Visit to the Empress is a pillar of the Beijing Opera canon. Shen Wei’s production represents the first known new staging of the work in over 200 years.

For Shen Wei Dance Arts, Second Visit to the Empress represents a multi-year dedication to the celebration of a traditional form rarely seen in the West, and increasingly neglected in China. The overall vision at once recalls and re-casts the form — a treasure of world heritage — through the lens of Shen Wei’s landmark visual style. As such, the dance-opera represents Shen Wei’s most “total” work to date.

The four traditional Beijing Opera luminaries appearing in this production — Ms. Zhang Jing, Mr. Deng Mu Wei, Mr. He Wei, and Ms. Song Yang — are widely regarded as seminal interpreters of the repertoire. Each has a knowledge and aptitude for the form unavailable to non-native performers. Because Second Visit to the Empress features an unusually demanding vocal score, each vocalist was selected for his or her mastery of roles embodied by distinct vocal styles: the wife (female soprano); the intellectual/philosopher advisor (male soprano), and the military advisor (baritone).

The production is fully-staged, including sets, costumes, and make-up design by Shen Wei, and lighting by Jennifer Tipton. The challenging music is played by sixteen musicians (on twenty traditional Chinese instruments). A corps of twelve dancers form a characterless visual counterpart to the score, embodying the music through movement.

The music and lyrics to Second Visit to the Empress were developed approximately 300 years ago by anonymous artists. Zhenguo Liu revised the music for this new production and Shen Wei edited the lyrics. Original material was taken from the Anthology of Classical Peking Operas.

Shen Wei’s production of Second Visit to the Empress was performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City in July. The work premiered in 2005 at the American Dance Festival. University Musical Society (UMS) hosts the only other U.S. engagement this season.

For performance tickets or additional information, contact the University Musical Society at 734-764-2538 or online at

Friday, September 21, 2007

Milwaukee Launches New Asian Festival this Weekend

With its long, hard winters, the city of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan really lets its hair down during the summer months, and has come to be known in the region as the city of festivals for its chock-a-block series of food, ethnic, music and fireworks fests that run in its parks and public squares pretty much every weekend. In years past, Asian Moon Fest, generally held in April, kicked off the seasonal celebrations, gathering a diverse array of Asian American cultural, culinary, and social organizations from throughout the region at the city’s massive lakefront Summer Fest complex.

For the past two years, however, the city has lacked a pan-Asian cultural festival. So, a coalition of local organizations and business sponsors banded together to launch a new event this year -- Silver City’s Asian Festival: East Meets West National – to be held this weekend on September 22, from 10AM – 6 PM.

The celebration has moved away from the highly commercialized lakefront, finding a home in the city’s southern neighborhood, home to a significant and vibrant, mostly Southeast Asian American community. In many ways, “taking it to the streets” may be more beneficial for the community, bringing visitors to its commercial heart. On the schedule is a parade, martial arts program, dance performances in many ethnic styles, kids’ events, raffles for Milwaukee Bucks and other goodies.

On the more serious side, a noon screening of the film Who Killed Vincent Chin? by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena will bring some focus to the issue of hate crimes, which has been freshly on the minds of Asian Americans throughout the region following recent incidents in the Wisconsin Northwoods area. The screening is contributed by the national organization Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, which has been organizing a series of townhalls on hate crimes nationwide throughout this summer, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the murder of Detroit autoworker Vincent Chin.

For more information and full schedule of events, times and locations, see or the MySpace page, or download the Vendor Packet in PDF format.

Other links of sort-of-related interest at IMDiversity & Elsewhere:

Sunday, September 02, 2007

NYC Arts: Esther K. Chae Spy Story; Vanja; IAAC Film Fest

A few promsing-sounding items for your calendar if you live in or are visiting the Apple:

-- This note about a "ripped from the headlines" story, sent in from our friend and occasional contributor, actress and producer Erin Quill:

"I wanted to let you know that after a busy summer working, I am turning my hand to producing for a dear friend of mine, Esther K. Chae, in her solo show - SO THE ARROW FLIES. I saw it in L.A., and I felt I wanted to work on it, because it's a very intriguing show - with laughter and high-stakes drama. Esther is a Yale grad and asst., taught for her mentor, Anna Deveare Smith this past fall at NYU. This show is placed now, and based on current events. It involves a Korean spy and the Korean American FBI agent that captures her. I am attaching the flier in hopes that you will turn out and support. We run Sept 19 -24th in cooperation with the Estrogenius Festival."

The show takes place at Stage Left Studio, 438 W 37th Street, 5A in New York.

(The site's Flash does not allow us to link directly to or copy anything from the page on Chae, so we'll attach the postcard below. Click it for larger printable image.)


Coming up with a little more lead time ... two for film buffs sent in by IAAC:
A film by Rajnesh Domalpalli
NR, 111 minutes
In Telugu with English Subtitles
Set in rural South India, a place where social barriers are built stronger than fort walls, VANAJA explores the chasm that divides classes as a young girl struggles to come of age while experiencing her sexual awakening and pursuing her dream of becoming a dancer. Trailer: Info:
Opening Friday, Sept. 14th - ImaginAsian - 239 E. 59 St. - (212) 371-6682 - AND..."After winning a remarkable 15 awards from over 60 film festivals around the world, the acclaimed film VANAJA will begin its theatrical run in the United States on August 31 when it opens in New York City at Cinema Village. Winning more film festival awards than any other Indian film in 2007, the coming-of-age drama about a teenage girl in rural South India will then open in Los Angeles and Chicago on September 14 and will debut in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Austin on September 21. VANAJA will continue to expand across the country with openings in San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and other cities."
Check out the Seventh Annual IAAC Film Festival (now titled 'The Mahindra IAAC Film Festival' marking partnership with big new sponsor Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.) to be held November 7 -11, 2007 in New York City.
Release about the partnership here. Festival postcard here.