Roll out the drum corps — and the acrobatics! The East-West Center is bringing a Malaysian percussion ensemble, the Hands Percussion Team, to Kennedy Theatre on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus this weekend.
Hands Percussion Team is a 16-member ensemble of Chinese-Malaysians that has been receiving international acclaim with creative, innovative and acrobatic performances.
Bill Feltz, head of arts programming for the East-West Center, traveled twice to Malaysia in the past two years to get the group to visit, after learning about them from a Chinese-Malaysian graduate student at University of Hawaii.
"They’re terrific," he said. "This musical group is one of the most energetic I’ve every experienced. They’re musicians, but at the same time they’re dancers and acrobats."
HANDS PERCUSSION TEAM
Chinese-Malaysian drum team, with the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble
Where: Kennedy Theatre, 1770 East-West Road.
When: 8 p.m. tomorrow; 2 p.m. Sunday
Info: Call 944-2697 or visit www.etickethawaii.com/kennedy.html
Note: The Hands Percussion Team will also perform Sept. 23 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Sept. 27 at Kahilu Theatre,Hawaii and Sept. 29 at BYU-Hawaii.
"In Chinese culture, there’s lion-dance drumming," he said. "They take off from that tradition."
The group is "dedicated to mastering the techniques of Chinese percussion," according to its website. The members are also open to adaptation and evolution, stating their interest in redefining certain traditional boundaries.
ASIDE from the traditional Chinese drum, or gu, the group includes the use of Malay drums, known as rebana, and gamelan, commonly associated with Indonesian culture.
"The sound of a drum is part of a universal human bond, interconnecting different cultures and its people," the group states.
Feltz says he especially wanted to bring a group representing Chinese-Malaysian culture to Hawaii, since that ethnic group makes up about 40 percent of Malaysia.
The East-West Center has sponsored many exhibits and performances from Malaysia and other Southeast Asian nations, but none of this large subgroup. The performances are part of the East-West Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Feltz sees parallels between the Hands Percussion group and taiko drumming, and so he has invited the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble to join the performance.
"They’re different," he said, comparing taiko with Hands’ performances. "But they’re perhaps related, so I thought it would make a great pair."