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MUSIC / DANCE NEWS : UCLA Plans Asian-U.S. Exchange

February 25, 1996|Lewis Segal | Lewis Segal is the Times dance writer

Under a three-year, $600,000 Ford Foundation grant, the UCLA department of world arts and cultures has launched an intercultural performance program involving 20 artists from Asia and the United States in long-term collaborative projects beginning this summer.

"This is about investing in people, about understanding the value of process, about bringing artists together and strengthening their sense of themselves," says Judy Mitoma, the department chairwoman, who was invited by the foundation two years ago to submit a proposal for a project emphasizing cultural exchange.

After visiting nine countries, she selected artists whom she says "are committed to their place [in their societies] and will return to enrich their communities."

At UCLA, the artists will interact in unstructured sessions during a five-week period with a view toward forming collaborative teams, Mitoma says. Then mini-grants will finance their travel to one another's home countries for independent work.

Those who decide they want to mount performance projects will be invited back for collaborative work in the summer of 1997, with performances scheduled for the following spring.

According to Mitoma, however, the program is not about generating a quota of finished pieces: "We are trying to achieve a deeper level of understanding before we put any emphasis on collaboration."

Twelve artists from six Asian countries have been selected for the program, the first part of which runs July 15 to Aug. 17:

* From Vietnam--performer-director Vu Thuy Ten, who specializes in a traditional opera idiom that incorporates dancing and clowning, and one of the few female Vietnamese playwrights, Thi Hong Ngat Nguyen.

* From the Philippines--actor-director Nestor Horfilla, who specializes in social-activist drama, and choreographer Agnes Locsin, who describes her style as "Filipino neo-ethnic."

* From Indonesia--Sumatran dancer-choreographer Hartati and noted Balinese puppeteer, musician, dancer and choreographer I Made Sidia.

* From India--dancer, actor and director Vinaya Kumar, a creator of contemporary Indian theater style, and renowned actor-dancer-choreographer Ketemane Shivanand Hegde.

* From Bangladesh--actor, director and educator Azad Abul Kalam and M. Fazlur Rahman, a folk musician and composer.

* From China--actor, writer and director Zhou Jingqiu, a member of the Peking Opera since age 12, and actor, writer and director Xu Ying, a published playwright.

The American participants have yet to be announced, except for San Francisco Mime Troupe director Dan Chumley and singer-choreographer Chen Shi Zheng.

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