TITLE: Natasinh Dancers and Musicians
EVENT DATE: 07/26/2006
RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes
The Natasinh Dancers and Musicians performed Lao music and dance from Iowa, another in the Homegrown Concert Series sponsored by the American Folklife Center.
The Lao Natasinh Dance Troupe of Iowa, based in Des Moines, is a group of Lao dancers and musicians trained in the Natasinh style of performance--the traditional forms, techniques and character of performing arts taught at the Ecole National de Musique et Danse Laotien (founded in Vientiane in 1956 to preserve Lao music and dance traditions). The genre includes court music for royal ceremonies and the classical dance-drama based on the Ramayana, the Hindu epic that depicts the life and struggles of the Buddha, as well as music and dance performed for social and ritual occasions. In the early 1980s, the Natasinh Dancers and Musicians resettled in Des Moines, Iowa, thanks to Iowa's Refugee Resettlement Program and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Folk Arts, which enabled the group to tour the region and the U.S. The main purpose of the Natasinh Troupe is to teach and entertain at Lao Buddhist celebrations and to pass their skills on to young dancers and musicians in the Des Moines Lao community. The Troupe was featured at the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folklife, the Iowa Folklife and Prairie Voices Institute, the Culture Cafe (Des Moines Playhouse), at the 25th Anniversary of Freedom for the Peoples of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, at several state and multi-state Midwest folklife festivals, and at the 2005 National Governors' Conference in Des Moines.