Update #10: November 8th, 2009

8 11 2009


Gainesville Asian Arts Festival

09asianfestivalA review by Emily Tuan

Not many people can juggle a 30-pound vase around their body.

This was just one exhibition act out of many performed Sunday, October 25, at the Historic Thomas Center in Gainesville, Fla.

Fan Ze Meng from Sandong, China, has been practicing balancing for six years now.  He says he was scared to start because he’s older than most people who learn this skill, and it requires a lot of muscle.

The Heart of Florida Asian Festival showcased talents such as Meng’s, and it also served authentic Asian cuisine, offered an interactive crafts activity and had numerous booths  displaying information.

The event lasted from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and attracted around 5,000 students, families and elders during the day.

According to the Division of Cultural Affairs, the event provides a forum for Asian-American citizens to celebrate their heritage and to showcase their talents.

As a tourism product, the event was funded by a generous grant from the Alachua County Tourist Product Development Board.  It was presented by the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

Thai, Viet, Indian,  Brunei and  Chinese foods were served, as well as some homemade ice cream from Sweet Dreams.

Morgan Mildner, 21, is a fourth year art history major at the University of Florida.  She was interning at the Long Gallery at the event.

“Food is fantastic,” said Morgan Mildner, a fourth-year University of Florida art history major. “I’m not a curry person but I enjoy this curry a lot.”

Student organizations from the University of Florida’s Asian American Student Union were also displayed booths. October is Asian American awareness month on campus.

With flyers distributed all over Gainesville restaurants, a range of races gathered to witness this event.

To attend to the large crowd, there were simultaneous performances outside as well as inside.

Some acts performed outside include a lion dance, the Chinese Szechuan opera face-changing act, tiger boxing, martial arts, taiko drumming, Drunken Monk, Chinese balancing act, a kimono show and a Thai Elvis.

Performances indoors included a Filipino cultural fan dance, Mongolian cultural dance, a South Korea exorcism dance and the national Filipino dance, tinikling.

For all performances, a person would come out to introduce the next act with a traditional briefing.

The South Korean exorcism dance was performed by Hannah Lee.  It is said that the dance wards off evil spirits.

The national dance of the Philippines, tinikling, is a symbol of local birds. Tinikling involves beating long bamboo poles while dancers step in between and over them.

Linda Evjen, 51, an Alachua County resident, heard about the Asian arts festival through the Gainesville Sun.

“I love taiko drumming,” said Evjen. “I came just to see this.”

As it started in collaboration with a visual arts photography exhibit and solely as China Fest last year, the event expanded to include other cultures.

“They decided to expand it to the Asian Festival,” said Mary Prosen, Marketing Coordinator.

With 16 years of experience, Prosen describes her job as enjoyable.

“I decided it was something I like, promoting arts and cultural affairs,” Prosen said.  “I like all the costumes and the entertainment.  Everything is so colorful.”

The Heart of Florida Asian Festival traveled to Gainesville from Orlando, Florida.

Performers commuted from different areas.

Suzanna Mars, the Arts Development Consultant, explains that she searched for performers through their media sponsor, Asia Trend, past festivals and by word of mouth.

“Thai Elvis is a local legend, and the dance programs were assembled through community groups and the university, as well as personal recommendations,” said Mars.

Wearing all red, Yang Jing Nong, 21, performed the Drunken Monk Act entertaining children and adults.  He said he started practicing at 8 years old.

The lion dance performance was represented by Jacksonville’s Experience Asia. The Chinese dance is traditional in Chinese culture, where performers are hidden under a lion costume, imitating the movements of a lion.

Miquel Kendrick, 22, a senior art history major says her favorite part has been the Chinese acrobat. She was amazed by the talent displayed.

With numerous changes this year, the Asian Arts Festival was a success in displaying a fusion of Asian cultures.

Upcoming Events

Nov. 9th [MON]

  • Asian Food Festival 6:30pm at the Indian Cultural Center

Nov. 10th [TUES]

  • KUSA Seoul Sho 6:30pm at Grand Ballroom
  • “The Great Divide”- breaking cultural stereotypes- 6:30pm Rion Ballroom, hosted by the UF Black Student Union

Nov. 11th [WED]/Veteran’s Day

  • K-Month Language Workshop 6pm at Ustler
  • Come out and learn 6 different Asian languages, eat a free Asian dinner from Green Plantains with a free boba tea drink from Lollicup, and win some cool prizes!

Nov. 12th [THURS]

  • FSA Show 6:30pm, Location TBA

Nov. 13th [FRI]

  • Asian Arts and Entertainment Festival- 6:30pm Reitz Amphitheater
  • (K-Month Closing Ceremony)

Nov. 14th [SAT]

  • FSA Def Talent Jam
  • Time 6pm,  University Auditorium
  • *Tickets are being sold at ticketmaster.com or at the University Box Office on campus for $12!

Nov. 15th [SUN]

  • FSA Adobowl (Flag-Football Tournament)
  • Time TBA, Squirrel Ridge Park on Williston and 13th

Victor Kim and Lydia Paek came to UF for the AASU Got Talent Show!




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