I was recently able to participate in the recent Night of the Rising Stars, a night of Asian cultural performances sponsored by the Chinatown Community Arts Program of the San Francisco Arts Commission. The program consisted mostly of wushu demonstrations, performances by the Chinese Folk Dance Association and the S.F. Taiko Dojo Youth “Dream Team”.
The performance was also a celebration of Sensei Tanaka and Sifu Fong’s many years teaching. Here is an excerpt from the program written by Bryant Fong:
I would like to welcome you to the Night of the Rising Stars. It is aptly named because the program tonight looks to the future and blends with the past. The future of Asian culture depends on its youth, tonight they bring you the future of Chinese Wushu, Dance, and Japanese Taiko.
We who began the search for our place in society, by looking to our roots, now turn over our art to the younger generation in hopes that they will continue to preserve and further develop our arts.
This year marks twenty years for me in wushu, and twenty years of the San Francisco Wushu Team. For the Chinatown Folk Dance Association it marks a new generation of dancers and leaders. For Sensei Tanaka it marks 30 years of teaching taiko.
It will be most meaningful to us to see the youth continue our arts into the 21st century. These are the jewels of Chinese and Japanese culture that we can be proud to share with an American society in search of definition and diversity. Please enjoy and encourage our youth for their enthusiasm and hard work in pursuing and practicing their art.
— Sifu Bryant Fong
The entire program lasted about 2 – 3 hours and was chock-full of interesting performances. First on the program were several Wushu demonstrations: Group Long Fist, Group Basics, and some of the other usual fare (42 step Taiji, Chain Whip …). I particularly liked the fighting set entitled “Fighting in the Dark” performed by Corey, Dale and Ronald where they depicted a fight taking place where none of the participants can see each other. Pretty clever choreography.
After the wushu was performances by the Chinese Folk Dance Association. They performed three dances, my favorite being “The Bench”, a folk dance from Canton Province. It depicted children playfully fighting over a bench.
After a 10 minute intermission the San Francisco Taiko Dojo’s Youth “Dream Team” performed and really “wowed” the audience. They were incredible. They have another performance coming up soon which I really recommend you go check out. They’re a lot of fun to watch. (Trivia Note: My ex-roommate’s uncle is Sensei Seichi Tanaka, the Grand Master of the S.F. Taiko Dojo. Small world, huh?) They have a store in Japan Town on the Bridge to Kinokuniya. Drop by some time if you have a chance.
After that was more wushu. I was up first performing 2 sections of my Nan Quan. Then others followed. A few notables were Rolando’s compulsory broadsword, Group Long Fist by me, David, Elan and Mike Kuo. David also performed his Straight Sword, Haruwn did his Bagua Zhang and Greg and Alan performed a broadsword vs. spear.
After that was another few dances by the Chinese Folk Dance Association which, I’m sorry to say, I missed. and then another wushu section featuring a few fighting sets (Sledge Hammer vs. Pole and Three Person Staff Sparring) as well as Mike Kuo’s great drunken fist and the infamous “Wushu Explosion”.
All in all it was a great show and lots of fun to do. I always liked demoing and this was a fun place to do it in. Oh, I should mention that it took place at the Chinese Cultural Center in S.F. Chinatown in the Holiday Inn. I did a Chinese New Years’ demo there back in 1996 and it’s also where Jet Li filmed his wushu demonstration from the movie “Dragon Fight”.