~ Submitted by Lee Vorderer
One Bedford family was particularly involved in The Legend Reborn, a program offered by The Chinese Folk-Art Workshop Inc., on Sunday, May 29, at Casey Theatre on the Regis College campus. Mei Ling Khoo and Edward Hsu, owners of Ginger on The Great Road, have been involved since their daughter Rachael joined the workshop almost 10 years ago.
The family learned about the Chinese Folk-Art Workshop through friends, and even though it made for challenging schedules, and classes conflicting with restaurant operations, they made the connection work by being flexible and bringing friends in to help with commuting. The school year schedule calls for one meeting per week; in the summer there are summer camp programs for those who want to advance their skills and dance more regularly.
The program was, in my eyes, amazing:
Imagine you’re in a darkened theatre, and there’s a huge, brightly lit dragon puppet swirling around the stage, clapping its big mouth at the audience….or there are five young men in bright costumes twirling fluorescent blue spinners (sort of like expanded yoyos) and throwing them back and forth among the troupe…or there are girls in flowing silk costumes who spin so their skirts become petunias all around them. The Workshop had the entire audience spellbound as eleven different collections of students gave a remarkable and beautiful recital of the dances and instruments and acrobatics they’ve learned. The Chinese Folk-Art Workshop’s mission encourages Chinese American young people to share their talents in traditional Chinese performance and visual arts with others. The applause was almost continuous, and share they did.
The program book introduction states, “In Chinese mythology, the phoenix and dragon represent water and mountains, which symbolize Yin and Yang, respectively – the two primary Chinese philosophical forces of life.” The young men and women dancing together embodied these two forces, and as the audience watched, the forces confronted each other, joined and came apart over and over. It was breathtaking.
Many of the kids involved, who are aged about 8 through high school, take other classes – ballet and karate for example – that help them to be stronger, more flexible, and more confident, and they bring those skills to their performance.
When asked about what she saw as outcomes for her daughter beyond the specific dancing, Mei-Ling says without hesitation – “confidence, and being able to take on responsibility without hesitating”. Rachael is the Assistant Captain of the team this year, offering many opportunities to practice her leadership and performance skills. But all the kids, from the youngest to those graduating from high school this year, look confident in their performance, collaborate gracefully with their partners and smile as broadly as their faces will allow.
Besides the great skill and the precision that the workshop training offers, joy and delight and pride are clearly present in every one of the performers. With smiles somewhat rare in today’s world, the smiles on these faces made everyone at the performance smile back.
What a gift.