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>  News Releases >   2005 >   September

Dartmouth brings artists from China's Yunnan Province

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 09/15/05 • Contact Sue Knapp (603) 646-3661

For the first time in North American history, musicians and dancers from the Yi, Wa, Dai and Naxi ethnic minority groups in Southwest China's Yunnan Province will share their cultural heritage with Americans in several performances and workshops. They will begin a week of public appearances at Dartmouth College starting on Monday, September 26. Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts was instrumental in bringing Yunnan Revealed to the United States.

Yi Dancers.
Yi Dancers. Credit: Margaret Lawrence, Hopkins Center.

Yunnan Revealed will include a variety of performances of traditional folk dance and music as well as embroidery, instrument-making and pictograph demonstrations. This dramatic presentation features an array of stringed instruments, flutes and drums. From high keening songs and earthly yells to ritual dances, the performance is surprising, moving, immediate and joyous, according to Margaret Lawrence, the Hopkins Center for the Arts Programming Director. The performance brings to life the Yunnan's many different cultural traditions of family, love, war, and survival.

"This project celebrates the extraordinary cultures of several Chinese ethnic minorities-and it also presents a rare chance to explore their fate," says Lawrence. "As China swiftly globalizes, what becomes of the cultures of these ethnic minorities? I'm struck by parallels between challenges Native Americans have faced-loss of land, loss of language, a struggle for representation-and those of many indigenous Chinese. This project is a fascinating way to explore commonalities among peoples."

Lawrence, the co-producer and curator of Yunnan Revealed, has worked on this project for two years. She explains that the North American performances are intended to encourage the preservation of cultural heritage of the ethnic minority groups in Yunnan Province, China. This province adjoins Tibet, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam and is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world.

Lawrence visited Yunnan in 2003 and 2004 to research and curate the performance. "Ethnic minorities of Yunnan are at a critical moment in history, as global changes affect even the most remote Chinese villages. How can they preserve their languages, customs, and legends? The first step may be to share them with us. While I'm struck by the amazing artistry of the singers and dancers we are bringing, I'm even more excited by the deep international exchanges that will take place when they come to Hanover and our surrounding communities."

Naxi Performers.
Naxi Performers. Credit: Margaret Lawrence, Hopkins Center.

Jeffrey H. James, the Director of the Hopkins Center, adds, "I'm proud that, as is often the case, the Hopkins Center is at the forefront of exploring a cultural phenomenon with both societal and artistic implications. At a time when China is at the center of so much international interest and study, this project will give us access to one of the otherwise untold stories on the Chinese scene. The breadth of this residency-which is unparalleled for the Yunnan Revealed U.S. tour-will provide the Dartmouth community with a unique opportunity for inspiration and for learning."

In addition to Dartmouth, Yunnan Revealed will be hosted by The Kennedy Center; The Asia Society, the World Music Institute and The American Museum of Natural History in New York City; Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.; Connecticut College; The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Ma.; and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vt.

The New England Foundation for the Arts is helping fund Yunnan Revealed. The tour also has support from the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China.

More Information

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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