BURNSVILLE, Minn. (May 29, 2011) – A Unique Pan Asian Dance Festival was held at Burnsville Performing Arts Center over Memorial weekend; in fact it was the first ever Pan Asian Arts Dance Festival showcase that featured 42 Asian dances from 20 different dance groups. The audience responded well to an entire day of dance entertainment, with each group showcasing two of their best dance numbers to compete for Modern and Traditional Dance categories.
The Modern Dance Competition included Motion Crew, N.W.A, MidKnight Sun, and Modern Indian Dance Academy R.G.K Dance Fitness & Studio, which started the event with hip-hop moves, break dance stunts, and modern Bollywood dance. MidKnight Sun, performed to a compelling dance to showcase girl power, through the culture of Hmong Hip-hop by incorporating various forms of modern hip-hop styles together with a Hmong twist.
Modern Indian Dance Academy R.G.K. Dance & Fitness Studio is the first dance Academy in the Minneapolis area to offer classes in the exhilarating and beautiful Bollywood dance styles of India all year round. Bollywood dancing is a commercial name for modern Indian dancing.
This combination begins with classical Indian dance as its base, and mixes folk dancing such as Bhangra and sometimes even a Latino or Arabic influence. The dancers have fun with the very expressive movements with layers meaning in interpreting the meaning of the films through dance.
The Traditional Dance Groups included Bhutanese Dance Group, Renuka Humagai and Shara Motey, danced to “Mati Ghar,” a song about a couple after marriage, going to the husband’s house, which the bride discovers is the “mati ghar” or home of his parents.
Silver Skies, a Hmong dance group, included six strong and beautiful dancers, in performing the “Peacock Dance” and the “Flower Fairy”. CSE Stars, a dance group from the Hmong Charter School, Community School of Excellence, performed to “Hmong Alphabet” and “Colorful Hmong Village.”
The colorful costumes stir the imagination and tell a Hmong story of a culture. Blue represents the ocean; pink, white, and green represent the blossoms; yellow represents the weather; and the qeej represents what is Hmong.
Minnesota Bright Stars, a youth dance group from Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association. Minnesota Bright Stars performed to a dance called “Rhythm of Asia” showcasing the beauty of Asia.
Wendy Vang, one of the very few unique artistic solo dancers in the field of Hmong Traditional and Cultural Dance, and Performing Arts, has been dancing for almost six years, and recently choreographed some of her own work. Using historic knowledge and ancestry practice of the Hmong ethnicity in addition with her own ideals and style, Vang performed to “Mekong River Crossing of the Hmong Tribute Dance” and “Snake Goddess” or also known as Dragon dance, portraying deities in mythical stories of the origins of mankind.
Vang also performed a third dance called “Through Mountain’s Grassland” for the general show.
Fireflies consists of 16 Hmong girls of the Dao Lan Dance Studio. They performed to the “Fish Dance” and another dance called “Modernize Little Girls.”
Choreographed by Dao Lan, this piece was dedicated to the children’s parents for their ongoing supports and for giving the children the experience to go beyond and achieve their love for dancing.
Established in 2002, the nonprofit Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center serves to promote the understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture. TCCDC performed to “Chu Yao” and “Heavenly Road”, a road that is a gift, a bond that has united all the people from all over the country.
Hmong Heroes performed to the “Drum Dance” and “Country Boys”. They have been dancing together for two years under acclaimed choreographer Mai Vang and acrobatic teacher Jenny Vang. The all-boys dance group displays strong physical ability and a focus on acrobatics and martial arts, along with Hmong and Chinese dance styles.
Karen Cultural Organization of Minnesota performed the “Done Dance” and another traditional dance that are often part of the New Year’s festivals, marriage celebrations and other significant days. The Karen are an ethnic people of Burma and their dances depicts a style of life that has been passed down for centuries.
Mu Gung Hwa Korean Dance Academy is a small dance school in Osseo. Mrs. Eun Hye Lee has been teaching her great love of Korean dance, art and music there since 1989. The dancers performed “Janggu chum dance”, the first round is an example of dance and drumming that was done in the villages at harvest time.
Mu Gung Hwa’s second dance was “Buchaechum”, which is widely regarded as the most unique Korean traditional dance with luxurious dresses and brilliant fans of painted blossoms illustrates.
Nkauj Ntxuam Dej performed to “Enchanting Fan Dance of Springtime” and “Charming Dance of The Peacocks”. The passionate peacock princesses dance in a forest of Bamboo trees under the mist. The vivid costumes and twirling movements were a stunning interpretation of the elegant movement of the peacock.
The Nkauj Ntxuam Dej group has danced at Dao Lan Dance School for the past five years. They recently won in the traditional dance category at the 2011 Minnesota Hmong New Year.
The Mulan dance group is one of six teams from Dao Lan Dance Studio. The Hmong girls ages 9 to 13 years old are taught by Dao Lan. Mulan performed to a “Miao Dance” called “Live in the Mountain” and to “A Girls Reflection”. Miao is the word for Hmong still used in China. The Hmong that migrated consider the word derogatory in the Southeast Asian countries where it has a double meaning.
The dances showcased the origin, ethnicity and culture of the Hmong dating back at least to 2,000 B.C. in China. Over the years, through warfare, the Hmong has been dispersed throughout the world but there are still many relatives in the ancestral China.
Like the character in the movie Mulan, girls often struggle with their identity in their culture – caught between the dutiful female role and the desire to be true to oneself. “A Girl’s Reflection” depicts a struggle that is not only felt by many females in the Asian culture but could be universal to all females.
Minnesota SunShine has been performing Hmong, Chinese, Laos, and Bollywood dance styles together for the past 11 years under internationally renowned Hmong choreographer Mai Vang. The troupe performed a Bollywood dance and another piece called, “Sun Dance.”
Combining group formation and synchronized movement, the dancers wear long uptight, bottom-wide skirts flipping with their legs, along with elegant hand and arm gestures to resemble the sun.
Rainbow Dance Group consists of girls’ aged 8 to 12. They study under Hmong choreographer Jennie Vang, and performed to the “Va Dance” and the “Flower Dance.” With graceful rhythm, the girls wore flower costumes and held peony flowers in a dance that celebrates the blossom season.
Nkauj Hmoob Ywj Pheej danced to a Thai dance and a Hmong and Thai song and dance called “Hais Lus Hmoob Ua Ke”, which translates to “Say Hmong Together.” The routine expresses song and lyrics with dance. Although, the motion of this dance is very energetic, it still has the beauty of body movements, the joyful facial, and the beauty of pretty hand movements of the traditional Hmong dance.
Ocean Dance Group consists of girls ages 9 to 13, under acclaimed Hmong choreographer Mai Vang. They participate in 30 or more performances annually at festivals, schools performance, and Hmong New Year’s celebrations.
Ocean performed to the “Bamboo Dance” and the “Qeej Dance”. The qeej is a Hmong reed musical instrument that is played at holidays, funerals and other ceremonies. The musicians must also perform mandatory steps in unison to include spinning to confuse evil spirits that may try to prevent the soul of the deceased from joining his ancestors, and larger circular patterns to indicate the journey on horseback of the soul.
Mai Vang adapted this tradition with more graceful dance movements and enhances with group formations to honor the Qeej.
The Japanese dance group Sansei Yonsei Kai continues the long-standing tradition of the Japanese American community in the Twin Cities. Formed over 35 years ago, the members are volunteers committed to the Japanese tradition of dance.
Sansei Yonsei Kai dancers performed to the popular Japanese song- “Fuji” “Sukiyaki”.
The group performs at many festivals and celebrations in the Twin cities as well as educational programs such as the Festival of Nations, Como Park Lantern Lighting Festival, Dragon Festival and the MN State Fair. As a group of multicultural dancers they foster the understanding and awareness of Japanese culture through the recreation and presentation of traditional and contemporary ethnic dance.
Asian Media Access Dance Group performed the finale with the Ribbon Dance. Featuring its 82 students comprising five different ethnic groups.
The Modern Dance competition results had the Motion Crew placing first and MidKnight Sun.
The Traditional Dance competition had Nkauj Ntxuaj Dej in first place, TCCDC in second, Karen Cultural Organization in third, and Minnesota SunShine placed both fourth and won as Audience Favorite, and Mu Gung Hwa Korean Dance Academy placed fifth.
For more scores, news and photos check online at www.panasianartsalliance.org.