"American Voices" performances showcase Taiwanese/American dance collaboration
By John Ferguson Translated by Ann Lee
Two special shows, representing the culmination of weeks of preparation and study between talented Taiwanese youth and an American faculty of five, will take place in Taipei on the evenings of August 15 and 23. The August 15 show, entitled "Hiplomacy" and "Gershwin and Friends" will include performances of Hip Hop dance by American Voices’ Michael Parks Masterson and over 30 young dancers. The "Gershwin" segment will highlight outstanding performances of Ragtime, Gershwin and other American piano music by a dozen Taiwanese pianists who have studied with American Voices Executive Director John Ferguson.
The August 23 show, "Something to Sing About", will feature performances of Broadway musicals by all five U.S. faculty members and a cast of over 60 talented Taiwanese Broadway performers. Highlights of the show will include excerpts from "Rent" and "Guys and Dolls" and many other musicals.
Under the guidance of Ferguson, the performances are the culmination of weeks of preparation by participants in the first annual American Performing Arts Academy in Taiwan (APAA). Together with their university partner, Taiwan Municipal University of Education, American Voices is founding the APAA to bring the American educational and performing arts experience to Taiwan. With a focus on Broadway musicals, Hip Hop Dance, jazz and other "cool new things" from the U.S., the APAA strives to provide an intensive and inspiring learning experience to Taiwan’s high school and university students as well as young professionals. The participants range in age from 14 to 40 and represent a cross section of talent from Taiwanese high schools, major universities and performing arts institutions in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Penghu, Tainan, Taichung and Chaiyi.
"As an aspiring young opera singer, the American Broadway Academies have given me the invaluable opportunity to learn a new genre of music that will be important to my future as a singer. The Academy definitely broadened my repertoire and opened new career possibilities for me," said one participant, young opera singer and competition winner Ching Yao (Andersen) of Taipei.
"American Voices brings an engaging slice of American culture to island-wide Taiwan youth through their educational, cultural and, most importantly, enjoyable Summer Academies. We look forward to welcoming them again and again," said Nick Papp of AIT's American Cultural Center.
Both free performances and the APAA summer academy program are supported by a wide range of partners and sponsors including the American Institute in Taiwan, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, United Airlines, SES Asia and TMUE. The U.S. performing artist faculty includes Broadway veterans Michael Parks Masterson and Carole McCann as well as vocalist and professor Jacquelyn Culpepper (Davidson College) and conductor Ira Spaulding (City University of New York). American Voices (www.americanvoices.org) currently organizes similar program annually in Iraq, the Unity Youth Performing Arts Academy, and in 2009 will expand the program to Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine.
The free performances will take place on August 15 (Hiplomacy and Gershwin and Friends) and August 23 (Something to Sing About, Broadway Gala) at 7:30 p.m. in the Chiang Kai-Shek Concert Hall on the Campus of TMUE (1, Ai-Guo West Rd, Taipei). For more information, call (02) 2311-3040, ext. 6132-6135, visit http://apaa.tmue.edu.tw, or email firstname.lastname@example.org