Oakland Ballet fest a love letter to Asian American artists

Oakland Ballet fest a love letter to Asian American artists

Alarmed by the rise of assaults on Asian People in america, the two in the Bay Area and globally, Oakland Ballet’s artistic director Graham Lustig jumped into motion to handle the issue via dance.

In collaboration with the Oakland Asian Cultural Centre, he initiated the Dancing Moons Competition with performances in Oakland and Livermore concerning from March 24 to April 2.  It brings with each other the function of five dance-makers, providing audiences the opportunity to see Asians as performers, choreographers, composers and designers.

With 30 years’ expertise as a principal dancer (now retired) and choreographer with Oakland Ballet, Michael Lowe was an clear selection to acquire component. The East Bay indigenous with Chinese and Korean heritage, who has contributed a new dance to the system, is no newcomer to bringing Asian themes and music to the phase.

“After dancing Chinese tea in ‘Nutcracker’ and a Chinese doll in ‘Coppélia,’ the initial time I attempted to crack the stereotypical portrayal of Asians was again in 1993 when I did the ‘Emperor and the Nightingale,’” Lowe recalls. “Nobody at that time even wished to display reliable Chinese folks.”

In 2003 he received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for choreography for his ballet “Bamboo.”

“I was genuinely pushing the audio of the ensemble Melody of China,” he says. “A great deal of my colleagues would say, ‘Can’t you discover a little something by Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky?’ It’s extremely hard music for Westerners, but we created it do the job.”

For his new piece in the Dancing Moons program, Lowe claims “there is pipa and other Chinese instrumentation, and also piano.” The new operate, “Ebb-tide,” for 6 dancers, was inspired by his mother’s watercolors.

An additional pair of choreographers contributing to Dancing Moons are Megan and Shannon Kurashige, founders and directors of their have San Francisco-based mostly present-day dance enterprise, Sharp & Wonderful. They are from a Japanese household, who just after generations of residing in Hawaii, relocated to California, exactly where the sisters were being born.

Shannon Kurashige states that “when we ended up young we didn’t super-recognize as staying Japanese for the reason that we were being so really Americanized. But a lot more not too long ago we understood that even if you’re not producing overtly Asian function, you are all your historical past. The factors you did in the loved ones and all the cultural practices that you really don’t even know are cultural methods, arrive out. Japanese people in Hawaii observe pretty in a different way from these in Japan, or even individuals in Brazil.”

The duo is choreographing a quartet, consisting of two partners. “For this piece,” Megan Kurashige suggests, “we feel that it’s pleasurable to open the door for all our collaborators and dancers to bring their personal histories to the do the job.”

One more Dancing Moons contributor, Hong Kong-born choreographer Phil Chan, moved to Berkeley at age 10 and started researching ballet. He received a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey college in New York Metropolis, exactly where he now lives.

In 2017 he co-launched Remaining Bow for Yellowface to confront the racist portrayal of Asian figures in classical ballet.

Chan remembers, “People were being coming up to me all the time expressing, ‘How do I resolve my “Nutcracker?” Can you acquire a search and see if it’s racist or not?’”

He made the decision to generate a ebook to absolutely free himself from that consulting perform and have time to choreograph. The e-book also inquiries “the Euro-centric mother nature of ballet and the way we glance at other cultures in our repertory strictly from a European perspective.”

Chan was commissioned last 12 months by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to reimagine a get the job done initially made in 1739 titled “Ballet des Porcelaines” (The Teapot Prince). With an all-Asian production crew and dancers, Chan’s variation turns a ballet that personifies the 18th-century’s distorted view Orientalism and allows the characters to arise as human beings, not caricatures.

The perform can make its West Coast premiere at Dancing Moons Festival, together with a new pas de deux set to first music by Huang Ruo and executed live by the internationally celebrated live performance pianist Min Kwon.

Rounding out the group of choreography contributors is Caili Quan, initially from the island of Guam.