Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kagoshima Asian Festival, Saturday

Kagoshima City has kind of a split personality when it comes to interactions with the outside world. On the one hand, with a population of 600,000, only 6,000 (or 1%) are foreigners. There's very little need to learn English, and almost no global commerce. On the other hand, Kagoshima has sister city or friendship city programs with Naples, Perth, Miami and several other Asian metropolises. Business people from China have been visiting to consider setting up ferry cruises between China and Japan, and there are foreign musical acts that play at Houzan Hall on a monthly basis. (There was a gypsy band in July, and the Ventures in August.) They do like their international music, anyway. The Kagoshima populace seems to like foreigners but only for short bursts.

On Oct. 15 and 16 we got the 6th Annual Asian Youth Arts Festival. Saturday's portion consisted of a 5 hour long set of performances by school and university students from Malaysia, Singapore and China, among other countries, plus a number of Japanese bands in the later afternoon. One of my English students told me about the event, saying that she was one of the volunteers interpreting for the Thai delegation. I arrived a little after the start time of 12:30, in the middle of a ballet performance and there were about 400 people in attendance. When the ballet ended, representatives of the schools came out and stood while the Mayor of Kagoshima gave his introduction speech. This was followed by two radio hosts who kept talking like the show was either being broadcast live on some station, or was being taped for later airing. The two were mostly irrelevant, introducing each school by just reading the descriptions printed in the program. The schools then took turns singing and/or dancing for 3 to 5 songs each. Several of the group descriptions stated that these performers had won awards at the national or Asian regional levels. Of them all, I can only find youtube references to Gema Citra.

Half of the schools just gave local cultural performances, while the other half did English or Japanese songs. The artists were mostly junior and senior high students, although one band came from a university, and the youngest girl from the Bangladesh community troupe was 5 1/2 years old (she was accompanied on the dance floor by the group's adult instructor along with 10 other community performers). The Japanese singers were the stiffest of the groups, but on the whole everyone was really good. Then there was the break at 3:30 and I went out to look for my English student. I didn't see her, so rather than stay to listen to the JPop bands I headed home to do this write-up. It was raining heavily when I walked to the Hall, and I wanted to get back during the lull before the rain broke again. The second half of the event is planned to be outside in Central Park on Sunday, and the weather now looks perfect for it.

The camera did not like being used in the dark from the opposite corner of the hall. I apologize for the blur. Above: North Vista Chorale, Singapore. They sang 6 songs, including O Lovely Peace, Brother Jame's Air and Kimi wo Nosete (With You on my Back, from Miyazaki's "Laputa, Castle in the Sky"). The Laputa theme song got the biggest rise from the audience and radio announcers, although all of the songs were done well. The girl's pronunciations of both the English and Japanese lyrics were good.

Next up was the Nishi-murasaki-baru Junior High School Choir, Japan. The girls only gave 2 songs, one of which had originally been performed by Misora Hibari. They sang well but looked very stiff compared to the other groups. They were also the only ones to have a female conductor.

Third was the Changsha Xinzhiyun Youth Delegation, China. Both the boys and girls were dynamic and expressive with their traditional dances and music performances. The female dance trio especially gave an interesting interpretation of what I assumed were three flowers playing in the sun.


The St. Francis' Art Troupe, Melaka, Malaysia had four quick local pieces, and the music was so lively that I wanted to video it. Unfortunately, the camera zoomed back out to get into record mode, and the dancers became invisible in the glare from the stage lights. The camera mike is just so-so, meaning that the file's not good enough to put on youtube. Suffice it to say that they danced well.

Sinsai-Khon Kaen University, Thailand. This is the group that my English student was volunteering to help, but she wasn't the interpreter for them during the radio break. They had five fast pieces that came very close to western jazz or bebop. The two guys in the middle toward the back looked like they were having WAY too much fun on bongos and flute.

Following each set, two performers would come out and answer lame questions from the radio hosts. Mostly, it was things like "who made your wonderful outfits" and "how old is everyone in your group". Here, we have two of the female Thai dancers.

Gema Citra Nusantara, Indonesia, Jakarta. Ok, now these girls are GOOD. They came out in alternating costumes, with red or white tops. Kneeling on the floor in a straight line they set down a rhythm pattern by slapping their shoulders, knees and the floor, accompanied by one boy on a drum at stage left. They combined this pattern with weaving and standing so that the red and white outfits would intermingle with each other. They probably got the loudest applause of the night. You can see something close to this on youtube, called Rapai Geleng, but without the red and white part.

The last group before the break was the Kathak Dance Community, Bangladesh, Dhaka. They gave 4 traditional dances, with the older adult instructor joining in. The main reason that the audience loved them so much was that two of the dancing girls were 7 and 5.5 years old.

Lots of photos were taken with the foreign students during the break. I think these guys were from the Chinese delegation.

Sunday's schedule includes outdoor stage performances and Asian regional food stalls. Two of my other students emailed me last night to say that they're planning on going since the rain has stopped, so I'm sort of obligated to go back again now.


evania said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
evania said...

Here's the link for Rapai Geleng from Gema Citra Nusantara :D

TSOTE said...

Thanks for the link. It's a great performance. I just wish the video quality was better so you could follow their movements more easily.

What do you think of them?

evania said...

actually they're my friends :D i also part of GCN, but i didn't go dancing in Kagoshima. I don't think they perform Rapai Geleng dance in Kagoshima, the dance called Ratoh Duek or Saman.

i have two more videos for ratoh duek here's GCN in a wedding ceremony

and here's our student

i wish the video quality's better or maybe you should visit us in Jakarta and we could practice together :p hehe

TSOTE said...

I see. Thank you very much for visiting my blog then. I'm wondering how you found my blog? Just as a sidenote, I am studying Japanese in a class with other foreigners, and two of them are Indonesian women. They were very surprised to discover that the Asian festival was last weekend (they missed seeing it).

When I was looking at the Kagoshima program book, I think I saw it mention "Rapai Geleng" in the schedule. Maybe I was wrong.

Thank you for the other video links!

I'd like to visit Jakarta, yes. But I need to find a better job and make more money to be able to afford it.

evania said...

they found it first, and posted to their facebook & twitter :D
btw, sorry for my bad english hehe

TSOTE said...

Your English is very good. You don't need to worry about that.

Could you give me the link to the Facebook page? I like to see how my blog relates to other people's interests. Thanks.

When will GCN be performing next? Any more plans for international performances?

evania said... my friend's page

When my friends in Japan, I was in Dubai, and it seems our last international performances for this year.. next year we have plans to perform in Hongkong, Zurich and probably in US. But not yet confirmed :D

anindita said...

hello, i'm evania's friend, and thank you for sharing about our performance.. i actually have replied a post about this article last week, but somehow they didn't posted :P

when i share your blog on my facebook and twitter my friends and families responded positively, and they feel proud about our dancing group because the good things you wrote about us. it's such a great honor for us to have a really nice appreciation from you, so thank you very much for that. :)

anyway, nice article.. keep blogging :)

TSOTE said...

anindita, Thank you for the nice comments and for visiting my blog. I'm sorry that your first comment didn't register. I'm glad that you can comment now. As I mentioned in the blog entry, I was really impressed with your group's performance. It was easily one of the best of the afternoon, and I've been trying to find good copies of videos of GCN on youtube since then. If GCN visits Kagoshima again, please let me know so I can come watch.