About Susan

Monday, July 7, 2008

Today is Qi Xi - Make a Wish!

Today is Qi Xi or Tanabata (七夕)! This translates to “the evening of the 7th” or “evening of the sevens” and is the day that Chinese and Japanese commemorate the meeting of the stars Altair and Vega - 牛郎 and in Chinese, 彦星and 織姫 in Japanese. The legend I grew up with is that we remember the Cowherd and Weaver Girl who met and fell deeply in love, so much that they neglected their duties to the Sky King (the Universe) – he no longer had new clothes she made, and the cows strayed all over the heavens. The two lovers were punished by complete separation, but it is said that once a year, they would cross the stars to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month. How sad!

When I lived in Japan, I wrote wishes on little strips of paper (短冊) and affixed them to bamboo branches. Today, I’ll write one too, although I have nowhere to affix my wish except to the refrigerator …

Even though the piece in the photo is not specifically about this story, the theme of love is ever present throughout dance as a form of culture. Here is a Dai girl of the south, dancing in the warm rain while awaiting her lover.

May all your dreams come true!

Dancing for the Sichuan Earthquake Effort

Several weeks ago I was asked to participate in a dance competition and I came out with 1st Place for my division - it was a more low-key competition, which felt nice. My main motivation was that the proceeds would go to the earthquake victims in Sichuan, China. I'd already donated to Red Cross China and worked on projects that would hopefully help people trying to find their family members who were missing.

The photo above was taken during the competition; the dance is titled "Untamed Yi Girl" based on my take on the original Chinese title - I'd suggested 'Tameless' for 'Untamed' - to me, it speaks to the unique beauty of freedom. Basically I am a wild tomboy in the woods who, at the end of the dance, reveals a feminine side to her personality. At that point, I remove my hat to let my hair tumble down my back. While audiences tell me this is a very striking gesture, it has been a source of anxiety for me - during rehearsals my hair has come out of the hat prematurely! Thankfully performances have been fine.