Dancing in the Rain, performed by Silver Skies. (Photo Courtesy: Nolan Ly)
ST. PAUL (Dec. 19, 2012) — In celebrating the Hmong New Year, Iny Asian Dance Theater presented it’s first-ever Hmong Dance Drama, “Longing for Qeej” Dec. 19 at Central High School auditorium in St. Paul.
As a collaboration of Asian Media Access, Frost Lake Magnet School of Technology and Global Studies, and Pan Asian Arts Alliance, Iny Asian Dance Theater’s 89 dancers performed a dance drama adapted from Hmong folktale portraying the origin of Qeej – a traditional Hmong music instrument, a mouth organ with six bamboo pipes of different lengths attached to a wooden air chamber. Hmong believes that Qeej can communicate between the heaven and the earth, the living and the dead.
The story starts with powerful narration done by the theater artist Kang Vang. Long ago, there was Sinsay, a great warrior, if 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 seven wives arrived, found out each other, and 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, the Qeej, and when it was blown, the words came out. And the God of Heaven declared that all of the women were Sinsay’s true wives. Therefore, the Qeej has become the symbol of the Hmong culture.
The Dragon Dance was performed by Iny Asian Dance Theater’s most advanced group, MN SunSine. The team has long history of winning titles of Hmong New Year Dance Competition, and just won second place at the recent Hmong American New Year Dance Competition at the Metrodome.
Not only the dance includes a beautiful dragon head with matching gold/red masks, MN SunShine dancers has also performed this powerful dance with explosive physical capacities along with beautiful costume, and refreshing Asian music.
This 90-minute show, interweaving non-stop acrobatics, amazing costumes, dazzling dances, fantastic lighting has entertained more than 500 audiences, mixed with Asians and Caucasians.
“With more than 15 dances throughout the show, most of our dancers have to do 2-3 dances, they have not only completed the difficult costume changes, but also seamlessly connect each dance’s emotion perfectly, said Artistic Director Iny Xiong, spoke. “One of the audience told me that she has the goose bumps by watching the show, she can’t believe how strong the performance carrying on at the professional level beyond the ages of the dancers. And that is how good we are.”