[BLOG] Shanghai-born ballerina featured in new Gap fall campaign

I know we have a lot of dancers, so I thought this would be of interest!! (from jooktime.com)


Gap has just unveiled their fall campaign for 2012, Shine, which features emerging artists and musicians wearing the company’s “Icon Redefined” collection. Sporting The Fitted Boyfriend Shirt is Yuan Yuan Tan, a principal dancer for the San Francisco Ballet.

These individuals will be showcased during an eight-week content series on Gap’s social media channels, while the ads themselves will appear in September issues of national magazines and be displayed outdoors in major key cities.

She was featured in Vogue magazine in April 2003 and was named a “Hero of Asia” in the Asian edition of Time magazine in October 2004. (from sfballet.org)

[BLOG] Documentary: Somewhere Between

Since she knows I run this program, my friend highly suggested I check out this documentary about Chinese transracial adoptions, called “Somewhere Between.” There are a few limited screenings over the next few months, with one in NYC on August 24. I won’t be free that day, but it looks worth checking out for anyone who can! She and the girls will be available for questions, too!

Blurb: This film follows the lives of four teenaged girls adopted from China and now living in the United States. In profiling Chinese adoptees in contemporary America, Linda Goldstein Knowlton has created a deeply moving documentary illustrating that even the most specific of experiences can be universally relatable.


[BLOG] More music! “North Wind Blows” and “Liuyang River”

After my last post about Liang Zhu, there was some interest in the sheet music. I realized that it’s actually quite an advanced piece, I would say it requires at least 5 years of pretty serious piano study to attempt this piece. So I went back through my music and found two more pieces that I loved playing, one that is much easier (I think I learned this after 2-3 years of piano), and one that is slightly easier but considerably shorter.

I will be uploading all MP3’s and sheet music to this dropbox folder! Liang Zhu is in there, as are the two songs I am discussing in this post. Disclaimer: copyright, I don’t own any of the sheet music or the MP3’s, yada yada…  Apologies also for my poor scanning quality!

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[BLOG] Music: Butterfly Lovers (Liang Zhu)

One of the ideas we are entertaining for the Moon Festival celebration coming up in September is to have the kids break up into groups and perform skits of various Chinese myths and stories.

One of the most famous is the legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, often abbreviated as Liang Zhu, and it is considered the Chinese Romeo & Juliet. “Liang zhu” means “butterfly” in Chinese, so the English translation is “Butterfly lovers.”

Long story short: Zhu is a brilliant young girl and pretends to be a man in order to attend school, where she and her classmate Liang fall deeply in love. When she finally reveals her true identity as a woman, they prepare to get married, but her parents have already arranged her engagement to another man. Liang dies of a broken heart, and Zhu commits suicide. The two are reincarnated as a pair of butterflies (hence “liang zhu”).

Due to the nature of the ending, I preliminarily decided against the inclusion of this in the Moon Festival skits. However, I wanted to post about it because not only is it a famous legend, but in 1959 it was adapted into a violin concerto that is now extremely famous both in and outside of China. This is easily one of my favorite works of music. I used to play both piano and flute, so I learned the piano solo arrangement as well as the flute part in the original orchestral arrangement.

This is a breathtakingly beautiful piece, listening to it instantly brings all kinds of emotions for me, this is one of the pieces I grew up listening to (and playing!). Please share this with your children, especially if they play instruments!

I would be happy to send an MP3 to whoever would like to download the song to listen to. I can also scrounge up the piano arrangement if anyone would like a scan! (It is intermediate/advanced skill level though, so someone playing for 1-2 years probably shouldn’t attempt it, will get discouraged :P)

Email me or drop a comment if interested in MP3 or sheet music!

[BLOG] Godfrey Gao Cast in City of Bones

I have some really exciting news about my husband (shh, he doesn’t know yet) Godfrey Gao. He has been cast as Magnus Bane in the upcoming blockbuster movie adaption of the best-selling book “City of Bones,” first in the “Mortal Instruments” series – a very popular children/YA book series, maybe some CAPS kids read these?

Check out the official announcement here, it’s quite funny.

There are so many reasons I am excited for this. First and foremost – duh, I love Godfrey Gao. I mean, just look at him! A quick introduction: he’s 27, Taiwanese, raised in Canada, and hailed as the “first Asian male supermodel” following a lucrative deal with Louis Vuitton. He has dabbled in acting, with various parts in Taiwanese dramas.

The second reason I am so happy about this – and this is something you would THINK we could take for granted, but no – secondly, I’m really excited that they cast an Asian actor. News just broke that the blond, blue-eyed Liam Hemsworth (of Hunger Games fame) has been cast as Middle-Eastern legend Ali Baba in Arabian Nights. Really?! Reminds me of Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia. The character of Magnus Bane is only briefly mentioned as having Asian features (and being half Indonesian), so it would have been easy for the casting directors to just cast someone Caucasian and call it a day. That they cast a full Asian is impressive.

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[BLOG] Visiting China: Shanghai

I was born in New York, but my family is from Shanghai, so I’ve spent a lot of summers there. The last time I went is 2010 so my information may be ever so slightly out of date, but I will be sharing many pointers for those looking to visit Shanghai, and China in general!  Continue reading

[BLOG] Film: The Flowers of War

Christian Bale (of Dark Knight fame) plays the starring role in China’s top-grossing film of 2011, also the most expensive Chinese film ever made, Zhang Yimou’s epic The Flowers of War. See Christian Bale talk about it here.

The film is set in 1937, Nanjing, China, during the “Rape of Nanjing“, at the time of the Second Sino-Japanese War. This is a period that is glossed over in American history classes but was a truly terrible time for China, and is the reason why many Chinese citizens still bear a serious grudge against the Japanese (my mother included).

In the film, Christian Bale plays a mortician who pretends to be a priest to protect Chinese Catholic schoolgirls against imminent rape by Japanese soldiers; he also helps shelter a group of Chinese prostitutes, who ultimately decide to sacrifice themselves in place of the schoolgirls when the Japanese army requests their presence. I haven’t personally seen it yet but CSA is hoping to organize a screening of it at Princeton. It looks really good! Check out the American (English) trailer here. Get your Kleenex ready…  Continue reading

[BLOG] Music: Jay Chou “Mr. Magic”

For everyone who watched the Triple Eight show this weekend: did you like the music?

Most of the contemporary pieces featured Korean pop music (known as “Kpop”), which is very popular among Asian-Americans, including Chinese-Americans like myself. Actually, I listen to more Kpop than Cpop (Chinese pop music).

However, if any of you remember the circus-themed final number, that piece was set to a Chinese pop song by one of the most famous modern Chinese musical artists, Jay Chou.

I absolutely adore Jay Chou, and I will write a far more thorough post about him in the future, but for now – if anyone is interested in that song, here it is! “魔术先生” or “Mr. Magic”
Not one of my favorite Jay Chou songs but it was very fitting to the choreo and the show, and I thought it was a phenomenal closer!

I will be posting plenty more Cpop in the future, especially by Jay Chou; but if anyone would like some more info on the Kpop, that won’t be going on the blog, so you can email me for more info/recommendations ecai@princeton.edu