By JULIA ZHU
Asian Media Access
MINNEAPOLIS (July 2, 2015) — I won’t usually call a heavy rainy day as a perfect afternoon, but after enjoying the 2015 Pan Asian Arts Festival, I have to say – What a Great Afternoon!!!
Led by Pan Asian Arts Alliance, sponsored by Asian Media Access and local Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) arts groups has come together to celebrate May Asian heritage month with a whole day family fun – Pan Asian Arts Festival – Festival/Asian Style at the Landmark Center last month.
After watching more than 40+ diverse Asian dances from 23 Dance Teams, I can only say – “WHOA… “ A little bit about myself, I came to the US from a minority region of China (Guangxi province) only a few months ago. Before I arrived, I imagined what most people outside the US probably imagine, that the US would have little awareness of Asia and its folk arts and traditions, and that the knowledge it had would be superficial.
The Pan Asian Arts Festival held at May 17th at Landmark Center, with over 40 Asian folk dance performances and its Hmong Wearable Art Exhibition, completely changed my perspective. The depth of the traditions was stunning. The diversity of dance genres included Chinese, Dai, Hmong, Indian etc, Not only the dances themselves, but the music selection, the background narratives, the scenery and the costumes immersed me in the experiences from the villages and cities of Asia.
For example, the Dai dance troupe presented its “Peacock” dance, which reached deep into that group’s beliefs about the peacock as a symbol of divinity, rank, power and beauty. One group presented traditional drumming that has been used in festival celebrations for many generations. It was a depth of presentation that went far beyond the US culture that I imagined before coming here.
The wearable art exhibition was just as extraordinary. Handmade Hmong embroidery lent the costumes a depth and personality that is not possible from an assembly line. Yet there was nothing common or rustic about the delicate fabrics and designs either. Traditional Hmong patterns were well preserved and a the same time the costumes incorporated elements of fashion and innovation, for example in colors and accessories.
The art festival for me was a culture feast I could not have imagined experiencing outside my homeland. Though not at home, in the moment I forgot where I was, and I definitely look forward to the event again next year.
I would love to invite all of you out there, don’t miss this MUST SEE May Heritage Celebration – Pan Asian Arts Festival at 2016!! For more information, please contact: [email protected], 612-376-7715. Please visit PAAA website for more info at www.panasianartsalliance.org.