PHOTO ESSAY: Celebrating Hmong New Year in St. Paul

This year marks the 38th Annual Hmong New Year in Saint Paul. Prior to the Hmong arrival in the United States, the New Year’s celebration was held after the rice harvest. The tradition continued as Hmong people made Minnesota their home.The event is open to all, and includes entertainment, pageant competition, food, arts and craft, and dress.Want to learn more about Hmong New Year? Here’s a 2010 article by Phyllis Louise Harris, originally written for Asian Pages and republished in the TC Daily Planet, and a Wikipedia article.The photos below were captured during the three-day Hmong New Year celebration at St. Paul’s River Centre.Neng Lee, Hmong New Year Program Coordinator giving a speech to welcome community members.Local Hmong artists about to perform a song “All This and More” by Chael Young and PK Yang. Continue Reading

DANCE REVIEW | “Sol y Luna”: Zorongo Flamenco has “One Big Night” at the Ritz Theater

On November 9, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre performed at the Ritz Theater as part of the theater’s “One Big Night” series: one-time programs that showcase a range of companies’ repertoires. It’s not a bad idea: instead of trying to sell an entire weekend’s worth of seats, pack the house for a single electric performance. It certainly worked that way for Zorongo Flamenco: four dancers and two musicians rose passionately to the challenge of meeting the crowd’s high expectations.The program, titled Sol y Luna, was presented in front of giant projections of the sun and moon. That might have been a cheesy touch if the performers hadn’t brought an energy equal to the imposing setting. The company members have been taking Sol y Luna to venues across the state, and were clearly excited to be sharing the program in their home town.The dancers were the company’s very best: Deborah Elias, Collette Illarde, Antonio Arrebola, and artistic director Susana di Palma herself. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | Karna, the Abandoned Hero premieres in St. Paul

“Karna. Do you know of Karna?” the audience is asked, as the curtain pulls back on the first act of Karna, the Abandoned Hero at the O’Shaughnessy Theater at St. Catherine University. The story of Karna comes from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and features a fascinating cast of characters, from a queen who comes to admit that she is Karna’s mother, to Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu, who comes to ask Karna for peace. Bringing these characters to life is the Katha Dance Theatre and three powerful gospel singers, as well as visual artist Deb Sree.The world premiere of Karna, The Abandoned Hero is truly a global experience. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “(M)imosa” at the Walker Art Center: Four characters in search of an aesthetic

“It’s amazing that three naked people can be so boring,” said my companion as we walked out of (M)imosa/Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M) at the Walker Art Center on January 24.I couldn’t disagree, but noted, “Well, I don’t know much about voguing, I’ve never seen Paris is Burning, and I couldn’t tell you what the Judson Church is. So I guess I need to do some research.”So I did.Voguing is a style of dance, inspired by the poses of models in fashion magazines like Vogue, that came out of New York’s underground queer subculture in the 80s. You might have seen it in that Madonna video, or in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. The Judson Church is a Greenwich Village house of worship where, from 1962 to 1964, a group of performers did pathbreaking work in the development of postmodern dance.Okay, now on to the program note.“(M)imosa is a choreographic collaboration between Cécilia Bengolea, François Chaignaud, Marlene Monteiro Freitas and Trajal Harrell. The work is the (M)edium version of Harrell’s Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Pan Asian Dance Festival – Symposium and Competition, a Successful & Honorable Festival!

SAINT PAUL, MN – Lead by the Pan Asian Arts Alliance, the Pan Asian Dance Festival – Symposium and Competition, was successfully presented on August 17 and 18, at the E.M. Pearson Theater of Concordia University, Saint Paul.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.The Festival offers a supportive atmosphere aimed at fostering a creative exchange of ideas, encouraging exploration of new ground and providing opportunities to experience a wide spectrum of Pan Asian dance/movement disciplines. Artists, students and audiences share their knowledge and inspiration through workshops, jams, discussions, informal showings and performances.Hmong Dance Symposium:The Hmong people are one of the oldest ethic groups in several countries, believed by some researchers to be from the Yellow Basin area in China. “Hmong” once unknown people have risen to the forefront of international debate as a result of their entanglement in the Vietnam War, assisting the American CIAs. Continue Reading

Another opening

by John Munger | 7/31/09 • After over 40 years in the professional dance business you’d think someone would get tired of doing this arduous and monetarily unrewarding work. But somehow I keep needing to do this much as I need to continue breathing. It’s not the sort of thing where I’m capable of saying, “Been there, done that” and walk away.

My Fringe show, entitled “My Body Made Me Do This” opened last night at the Ritz Theater to a supportive audience of (I guesstimate) about 50. Not bad. Continue Reading

Barack Obama and a bag full of memories

Today on Twin Cities Public Television I watched former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell address the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center.The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Given his career-advancing role in covering-up the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, his senseless slaughter of Iraqi soldiers and civilians on the “Highway of Death” in Gulf War I, and his deceptive UN address that enabled Bush to disastrously invade and occupy Iraq, I felt he shouldn’t have been invited by the United Negro College Fund and others to speak. Nevertheless, he gave a superb address in which he recalled his first days in the Army after Harry Truman officially desegregated the military and racial hostility was still rampant. During the Korean War in June of 1952, I and a handful of other airmen were in a temporary barrack waiting to be shipped after completing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Continue Reading