|KCCA¡¯s ¡®East Meets West¡¯|
Showcases Sino-American Friendship
June 25th was a typical hot summer day, but far beyond usual for one eastern Kansas town. But the sound of Chinese drums, gongs, and singing electrified the city of Ottawa, Kansas, located about 45 minutes southwest of the Kansas City metropolitan area. It was a novel and exciting experience for the well-attended cultural event that ensued in the centrally-located City Park.
Photos provided by Song Guocai
The occasion for this celebratory activity was to mark the end of a month-long artistic presentation entitled ¡®East Meets West: Artistic Crossroads of Asia and America'. The art show showcased the works of local painter and graphic designer Hongli Xu and was held at the Carnegie Cultural Center. She is an artist whose work combines a formal background in traditional Chinese art along with the influence of Western and Native American schools of representation.
The Kansas City Chinese Association (KCCA) supported the show and sponsored the closing gala as a means of furthering awareness of and appreciation for intercultural exchange between China and America. Over 250 people in attendance enjoyed the festivities. The result was atremendous success in meeting organizational objectives of engagement.
KCCA¡¯s involvement included fielding a large number of dedicated volunteers to organize the event as well as provisioning the event with needed organizational guidance and material help. Chinese businesses also were intimately involved in supporting the event. KC Granite and 888 Market provided a presence, while restaurants KC Buffet of Shawnee and Tryyaki of Lawrence brought a large amount of delicious Chinese food to render a taste of Asia to the festival goers. Local business leader Benny Lee also turned out to show support for the event.
From start to finish, the day-long celebration was an unforgettable expos¨¦ of the close relationship that has developed between China and America. A concert of traditional Chinese zheng music preceded the actual start of the festivities. KCCA President David Cheng and Carnegie Center Curator Randy Endicott opened the event with remarks heralding the long historical bonds between the peoples of the two nations. Local dignitaries included Mayor Sara Caylor of Ottawa who offered laudatory comments to the crowd, as well as City Manager Rick Nienstedt and City Commissioner Mike Skidmore. Chief Standing Cloud of Osage City was a special honoree and offered the introductory blessing to the event.
The KC Drumrollers, a community group from the Kansas City area that plays traditional Chinese percussion instruments, greatly inspired the attendees with their thrilling play of large drums as well as the iracrobatic Lion Dance routine. A The Lawrence Dancing Friends Group of the Lawrence Chinese School and the Jasmine Dance Group gave several awe-inspiring performances of Zhang and Mongolianminority folk dances. A tea ceremony as well as a calligraphic dance also occurred, and singer Liu Na offered a beautiful rendition in song of homeland praise. Native American chants and dancing also gave a multicultural cast to the event.
A high point of the day was a stunning fashion show and fan dance performed by KCCA¡¯s own Traditional Cheongsam Dance Team. Over two dozen lovely ladies exhibited beautiful qipao silk Chinese dresses in a myriad of striking colors while performing in a choreographed and precision manner. It was truly a remarkable site to behold.
At the end of the performances, dignitaries as well as the general public were invited to come forward and sign a friendship wall that hadbeen erected. The works of many children also were displayed to echo the theme of friendship and peace. Last, a kite festival began, and beautifully painted kites flown by families could be seen flying for hours thereafter.
The ¡®East Meets West¡¯ show was an astoundingly successful event in terms of bringing together two disparate cultures. It highlighted the friendship links that have existed been Asian and American societies. Through its support to this art exhibit and gala performance, KCCA played a strong role in spreading a sense of amity and positive cultural relations in Kansas.