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April 17, 2002

Chinese Puppet Theater to Perform at the Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Oregon Folklife Program, presents Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu, of Dragon Arts Studio, performing traditional Chinese puppet theater, on Wednesday, May 15, at noon, on the Neptune Plaza of the Jefferson Building, First and Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C.

The outdoor concert is the second in the center's new series "Homegrown 2002: The Music of America," a monthly presentation of traditional music and dance from April to November, drawn from communities across the United States and arranged with the help of state folklorists. Cosponsors of the concerts are the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The Dragon Arts Chinese Puppet Theater also will perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts at 6 p.m. on the same day. The American Folklife Center's "Homegrown" series is part of "I Hear America Singing," a Library of Congress project celebrating America's music. Yuqin Wang, Zhengli Xu, and their daughter Ke "Brenda" Xu, moved from China to Portland, Ore., several years ago, bringing with them their knowledge and love of Chinese puppetry. The family operates as a team, constructing puppets and set designs, choreographing and performing Chinese folk tales for schools and other audiences throughout the U.S. and abroad. Their international experience includes more than 30 years of performing throughout China and touring in Europe and South America.

The art of Chinese puppetry dates back a thousand years, beginning as cultural ritual and then developing into a form of entertainment. Students of rod puppetry, such as Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu, study and practice for years to perfect their skills. Puppeteers work the rod puppets from below, holding the figures above their heads by thin metal rods that are attached to various parts of the human and animal figures they manipulate. Rod puppeteers stand and work behind a five-to-six foot curtain, which creates the illusion of a stage at its top edge.

Since arriving in the United States, the family has performed at venues across the country, such as the National Folk Festival, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the Puppeteers of America National Festival. To find out more about Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu and their characters, visit their Web site at www.dragonartstudio.com.

The inclement weather location for the American Folklife Center's Chinese Theater presentation is the Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress Jefferson Building. The concert is free and open to the public. The Jefferson Building is located close to Metro stops at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line).

The full schedule for the "Homegrown 2002" concert series is below.

April 24
Eddie Pennington -- Thumb-picking style guitarist

May 15
Zhengli Xu and Yuqin Wang -- Chinese puppet theater

June 5
The Blind Boys of Alabama -- Soul/Gospel

June 19
Karl & the Country Dutchmen -- German polka orchestra

July 24
Chuck Brown -- father of DC GoGo

August 28
Campbell Brother and Katie Webster -- sacred steel gospel

September 19
TBA -- 2002 NEA National Heritage Fellow

October 8
Bob McQuillan & Old New England -- contra dancing.

November 13
Cellicion Family -- Zuni music and dance

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American Folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

Part of the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center's mission to make performing arts accessible to everyone. The Millennium Stage introduces the performing arts to the local community and to millions of people who visit the center each year. These free, 6 p.m. performances are offered 365 days a year. Tickets are never required. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available on the Internet. For a schedule and information on how to access the broadcasts, visit the Kennedy Center Web site: http://kennedy-center.org.

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PR 02-054
04/17/02
ISSN 0731-3527

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