`Asian Gala' brings traditions to stage

May 20, 1999|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

Columbia's Hua Sha Chinese Dance Center will present an "Asian Gala" dance and music concert Saturday at Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia.

The concert, which includes five groups from China, Korea, Cambodia, Japan and India, will celebrate Asian Heritage month.

The concert's headliner, the Hua Sha (which means "Chinese" in that language) dance company, was founded in 1996 by celebrated Shanghai dancer and choreographer Xiao Fang Xu.

The company, which has performed at Kennedy Center and the National Institutes of Health's Asian month celebrations, features advanced students and invited professional artists.

The 52-year-old Fang studied traditional Chinese dance in Shanghai before attending Ohio State University as a visiting scholar in 1985. She has also taught at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Fang said she returns to Shanghai every summer to "learn more good dances and to visit my old school. I also visit the costume makers who are very famous throughout China" to buy costumes for the company's annual performances.

Saturday's performances will include classical folks dances from countries and cultures across Asia, as well as original pieces. Solo dancer Julia Tang, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania and a Hua Sha company member, will perform the "Emperor's Concubine" dance, the story of China's most famous courtesan, and other members of the company will stage a Chinese ribbon dance.

The Soon Hee Ahn Korean Dance Companyblends highly stylized works with modern selections to reflect Korea's culture. Members of the company will perform a ritual fan dance, and founder Soon Hee Ahn will do a solo dance based on the janggo, or "hourglass-shaped" drum.

Performances by the 80-member Washington Toho Society include ensembles that incorporate traditional Japanese instruments such as the shamisen and shakuhachi. The Cambodian American Heritage dance group will perform the Dance of Aspara -- portraying sculptures of Angkor Wat brought to life by the god of dance.

Sitar players Alif Laila and Debu Hayak, both classically trained musicians, will play light songs and medium-tempo numbers.

The performance begins at 7: 30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased by calling 410-381-0270 or 410-465-1789, or at the door the day of the concert.

Pub Date: 5/20/99

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