Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mekong River Folklife Festival

I'm heading back to the states next week. It's been almost a year since my last visit, so I'm looking forward to uncensored reading material and gaining lots of weight.

But this trip isn't all about fun and games. I am travelling to DC to take part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year's theme is Mekong: Connecting Cultures. Folk artists and craftsmen from across the Mekong Region (Yunnan, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) will be descending on the Washington Mall for about two weeks to present their traditional cultures and folkways to the United States in a face-to-face live exhibition.

The Mekong River begins in Tibet and winds its way through Yunnan and all of Indochina before reaching the sea in Saigon. With dozens of cultures, languages and religions along its banks, the Mekong has been called the most culturally diverse river in the world.

I've had the opportunity to play a small supporting role in translating and planning with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife Studies and the government of Yunnan Province over the past few years, and now I will take part in the festival as a presenter (and babysitter) for the folk artists during the festival.

Some hilights of the Yunnan segment will include performers He Jinhua (Naxi), Gen Dequan (Dai) and Luo Fengxue (Yi), all of whom travelled with us on the Yunnan Revealed Tour in 2005. Also in attendance will be He Xiudong, a young Dongba priest of the Naxi People, who is descended from a long line of such priests. He is one of a small number of dedicated youths in China working to preserve the ancient living traditions of Yunnan's ethnic groups. In all, there will be performances of the traditional music and dance of the Yi, Naxi, Dai, Pumi, Jingpo, Lisu and Nu Peoples, as well as the craft traditions of many of the above, as well as Bai and Han. There will also be food presentations from all over the province.

Let's not forget that this festival is about the whole Mekong Region, and that the other countries will be representing with just as much force and diversity. I don't want to spoil all the fun, so just come out and check us out. We'll be on the mall starting June 27, and out there until July 8. Be there be there be there...


Rhett said...

Again I won't be able to witness your visit. I still feel guilty from missing you the last time. You should announce things like this sooner. You know how Americans are go go go all the time, without much of a chance to enjoy things the way humans should. I need more warning.
I've been reading some of your blogs. It's nice to read about the things you've been doing. I think I'm feeling an itch to come out there. We'll see.
How much does puer tea cost anyway?

Wei Li Ren
aka Rhett

Jeff Crosby said...

Great to hear from you, and sorry I didn't tell you sooner about the trip.
You're always welcome to crash on my Beijing and Kunming couches, and yes, get your appendix out here as it's been way too long.


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