Introducing Art from Various Parts of Southeast Asia in the 1980’s

New York, N.Y.  When I recall the work I did as an international professional impresario, I think it was an honor to bring the arts from all over Southeast Asia and China to the United States.

Korea-Andong-Hahoe_Folk_Village-Thai_dancer-01Khon, Thai classical dance. Photo: Wikipedia.

Named Dance Representing Thai Art

I brought Thai dance to America. There is no doubt that the dance is representative of Thai art, but at that time not only was dance was not named, but the country did not even protect the dance or provide it a theater. I found this dance in a restaurant. Luckily, this restaurant did a wonderful job; the performance was so good I wanted to go see again. So I called out to everyone dancing there and invited them to perform with the name “Phakavali Dancers” (Pakabari Dancers). I think this was about 1970. The dance spread after that with the name I had given, and now when you search for this name, you will find lots of videos, websites and so on. At the time I found this dance, gave it a name and brought it to performance, and I think it was a pleasure to spread the dance to the world.

maxresdefault (1)Malaysian shadow puppets are known as “Wayang Kulit.”
Photo: Wikipedia.

Shadow Art from Malaysia

From Malaysia, I brought a shadow puppets. What kind of art represents each country? Which art would be most interesting to bring to the United States? I always thought Malaysia is the most important artistic group. Its performing art shows  movements of dolls passed through a stick in shadows, known as “Wayang Kulit.”

It is an art spread not only in Malaysia but also in Indonesia, and dolls are made of buffalo and goat skins, some of which are painted in color, some are finely and delicately made, and they look like watermarks. Some were dug. It seems to have been from the traditional one based on mythology and religion to the one using modern topics

This Malaysian shadow puppet show is not done in a large theater, but rather is mad for small gathering places. Even if you try to do your best in a large venue, it is felt that the venue should be for 100 to 200 people at best.

In the 1960’s there was no way to make a big projection on the screen, so it was a small show, but this was fine.

South Korea

It seems that South Korea has been leading culture protection from the country since then at a country-led initiative. In Korea, there is a traditional music group named “Ah-Ahk” that has been played and sung during festivals in the court, and in this “Ah-Ahk” performance, a show by Korean drums Also brought together. I always checked the history of the country first. When I was interested in history, I always went to visit locals without worrying about details, as I always knew what kind of art there was. At that time, it was a time when people could not even know the art of each country even if they listened to people, so it was best to go there

The reason I brought a lot of art was that there were still budgets at various universities in the United States. The university, which had about 3000 places, played a role like a cultural center in that area. Each university formed a series to introduce art and had a budget, so why not enter it? And I was going to sell to each school. In general public places, the university does not understand or pays well, but since the university performed performances such as orchestras, plays, ballets, ethnic studies, etc. six times a year, everyone wanted a funny program in the competition It was Now that the budget is running out, I was doing this job at a good time.

Originally published as Vol. 67 in Weekly Biz, April 13, 2019; translated by Jim Luce.

See: Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura Column in Japan’s Weekly Biz

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About Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura

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Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko was born into a distinguished old family in Kyoto, Japan, and graduated from Toho conservatory of Music in Tokyo. In 1961 she came to U.S. as a pianist sponsored by the Boston Symphony. She studied at Boston University, New York University, and received her Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine from New York State University and the International Academy of Education in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1992, she promoted cultural exchanges from East to West and vice versa, and became a world famous impresario, producing 2,000 events each year all over the world encompassing over 140 countries. In this connection, in 1972, she went to Dharamsala to find the lost Tibetan Folk Opera, and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom she remains a lifelong friend. In 1973 and 1991 she arranged and funded personally the tours of the Folk Opera of Tibet to the West. She has received many medals and honors from different countries. Her tireless life long work in Philanthropic field is vast and well known ranging from Save the Beacon Theater, Save the Boat People, Help the Homeless, natural disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as relief to AIDS and HIV positive children in Africa. She has been a dedicated Board Member to both the J. Luce Foundation and Orphans International for years. Her work focuses on the Tibetan people; Tibetan children remain especially strong in her heart. She raised fund for the new academic building for Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, India and supported many aspects of the school. See HuffPo pieces entitled Japanese Holistic Healer in NYC to Build School for Tibetan Orphans in India, A Japanese Dinner with Raul Castro’s Daughter, and NYC Gala in Support of Tibetan Orphans Set for January.

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