Asia Society Texas Showcases Diverse Array of Local, International Talent in 2023 Performing Arts Fall Season
HOUSTON, December 21, 2023 — In its 2023 performing arts fall season, Asia Society Texas presented an array of captivating programs that blended local and international artistic expressions.
The season kicked off in August with Transcending Borders: The Ramayana Project as a sold-out crowd gathered for this unique cross-cultural reimagining of the Ramayana epic, brought to life through diverse South and Southeast Asian performing arts traditions. Created and choreographed by Rathna Kumar, the program featured dancers from Anjali Dance Company, accompanied by the SaLaRu Dance Academy's Sri Lankan dance, M Dance Production's Indonesian dance, and a fusion of traditional Indian and Indonesian musical styles envisioned by music director Abhishek Balakrishnan working with Gamelan of the New Moon.
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In September, the Brown Theater’s stage came alive with two high-profile dance performances. Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers made their inaugural Houston appearance with KyLin's Garden 麒麟的花園: A Space For Tending, Sharing & Imagination, showcasing signature pieces and a new works by Kun-Yang Lin and senior dance artists Weiwei Ma and Evalina Carbonell, in collaboration with the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. October saw the world premiere of Ananta, The Eternal by the globally acclaimed Ragamala Dance Company. The premiere featured Bharatanatyam artist Aparna Ramaswamy — joined by her sister Ashwini Ramaswamy with a special appearance by their mother Ranee Ramaswamy — who created a series of solos and duets that Aparna described as a love letter to her family that explored “the eternal relationship between the deity and the devotee.”
AST also welcomed back ROCO and the Formosa Quartet for unique collaborations in October. As part of the ROCO Connections series, Rise Up featured the world premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Breaking the Veil, inspired by the Woman-Life-Freedom movement in Iran. Texas composer Quinn Mason's ballet 19th Amendment was performed with original choreography by the Houston Contemporary Dance Company. A livestream recording of the performance can be viewed online. The Formosa Quartet, joined by Taiwanese vocalist and pipa player Mei-Hui Wei, engaged audiences with The Music of Taiwan, offering a rare glimpse into the folk opera style of nanguan and Taiwanese indigenous music, and was complemented with insights from composer Shih-Hui Chen.
In November, Chen returned to present the workshop premiere of sisila ila ila: saying goodbye. Directed by Doug Fitch, the musical poem told the story of a musician navigating the cacophony of contemporary life while yearning for a lost world and the ones threatened by environmental changes. The performance incorporated the voice of a Taiwanese indigenous singer and 1960s pop song, a Beethoven quartet, and the music of humpback whales, brought to life through images developed by the seventh-generation Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater.
The season closed out in December with a piano recital by Dr. Yan Shen, a Shigeru Kawai Artist based at the University of Houston. Dr. Shen explored the rich inspiration and collaborations between Chinese and Western classical traditions, delivering a performance that featured works by Frédéric Chopin, Alexander Scriabin, Claude Debussy, Wanghua Chu, Tan Dun, Steve Ho, and Jianzhong Wang.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.