MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 6, 2015) — “Longing for Qeej” was successfully presented by Iny Asian Dance Theater on Dec. 19 , 2014 at Concordia University’s E.M. Pearson Theater in Saint Paul. Longing for Qeej is a Hmong dance drama, interweaving a series of acrobatic movements and dances to portray the origin of Qeej (pronounced as “khang”). Qeej is a mouth organ with six bamboo pipes of different lengths attached to a wooden air chamber.
This Performance has successfully attracted 350+ audience to enjoy this family friendly and Hmong traditions centered dance drama. Thanks to the wonderful support from the MN State Arts Board as well as our special guest speaker Dr. Yang Dao and his family for coming out to enjoy the show.
Created by award winning choreographer Iny Xiong, “Longing for Qeej” was a unique dance drama that showcases the Hmong American Artists and their talents. Everything from directing the dance drama, to composing songs, to choreography, and to the dancers themselves, “Longing for Qeej” offers the audience a chance to see a production solely created by Hmong Americans, to showcase the Hmong Traditional dances and arts. Furthermore, “Longing for Qeej” aims to put on a show with modern authentic Asian twists for the audience to see, while wowing them with handmade eye-candy costumes.
There was a total of 23 dances throughout the show, from IADT’s younger group, Snow Flakes, which recently won first Place at the Hmong Dance Competition for under 10 years old category. They opened the Show with “Winter Fairies” dance to highlight their stunning acrobatic skills.
Four magic creatures dances followed before the Show introduces the hero of the story — Sinsay. As told in the folklore, Sinsay is a great Hmong warrior. Whenever Sinsay won a challenge, his prize was to marry one beautiful woman from that Kingdom. Eventually, Sinsay conquered seven kingdoms with seven wives and enjoyed seven celebrations.
The God of Heaven decided to have a grand festival to honor Sinsay. All 7 wives arrived, found out each other, all shouted, “He’s my husband!” The God of Heaven then told the women, “If all seven of you say that each of you are his wife, then each of you must go and make something so that when all seven parts are put together into one, words will come out of it.” So each of them went off to make something, and all came back with different length of pipes. The seven pipes were put together, becoming one instrument – Qeej and when it was blown, the words came out in one unified sound. And the God of Heaven declared that all of the women were Sinsay’s true wives. Since then, the Qeej has become the symbol of the Hmong culture.
This two-hour long Dance Drama unfolds this the century-old story with dances, weaving in with narration and stage effect, creating a seamless cultural conversation from Ancient Asia to Modern America.
The show was a big success as the audient stood and applauded for the dancers as they all came out group by group for the final bow of the night. One of the special guests there was Dr. Yang Dao, whom gave a speech about the importance of a education – the key to a successful life, a speech filled with words of wisdom, he was amazed by the talented dancers.
Touched by Minnesota Sunshine’s Hmong dance – a song that he composed himself backs in the old days when he was younger – “Ib Lub Neej Tshiab” (A New Beginning). Speaking with excitement, Dr. Yang Dao expressed his appreciation, “Hearing my song with the dance, brings me so much joy, it reminds me when I was younger in the days.” He asked if everyone knew the song and everyone started singing together. One dancer quoted, “This really is my highlight of the night as everyone join in and sang the song all together.”
But the best of all, “Longing for Qeej” is performed by a group of dedicated young Hmong dancers. Busily getting ready for the show backstage helping to make sure things ran smoothly behind the screens as well and helping one another get ready to safety pinning flowers to the costumes, helping one with makeup and hair, and helping other dancers out with their costumes when they are switching to the next one for the next dance. One of the dancers quoted, “We’re all like family to one another and we support one another when one is in need of help”.
The parents not only donated money to the show but, helped make the costume/head pieces also putting in endless hours to promoting the show, and as well as showing the support throughout the show for example volunteering in the front to greet guest as they come through the door and directing them to the right place for the show. Additionally, a X’mas Carol was presented at the Theater Lobby to enhance the holiday atmosphere. Every eyes and ears were on the performers as they sang Christmas songs. The students handpicked each song and they were Santa Baby, Last Christmas, Juggle Bell Rock, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Julia Vang who is an award winning singer taking 1st place in many Hmong completions in the pass taught these Students.
This event is made possible in part by the grant provided by the MN Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (supported through the votes from the people of MN On November 4th, 2008.) For more information please contact: [email protected], 612-376-7715 or visit our website for more info- www.inyasiandancetheater.org.
Iny Asian Dance Theater (IADT) is a dance troupe famous for its explosive physical capabilities, beautiful costumes that utilize traditional fashion fused with contemporary fashion, and contemporary music from different Asian regions. IADT has a strong history winning many awards and certificates along the way, for example Snowflakes taking first place for the 10 and under Children division at the 2014 Hmong Dance Competition, Hmong Heroes taking second place as well as Ocean taking third place for 10+ Teenage Division at the River Center Hmong New Year this past November.