Asian Studies


"I can make no suggestion that would make the program more curriculum-oriented. In fact, we have aligned our 6th grade curriculum to fall within the scope of Symphony Space’s curriculum." — Anthony DeBenedetto, Teacher, IS 259

"It gives us a head start when we're learning about Asia [in our social studies classes] because we get to see all these different kinds of dances and instruments and art from different parts of Asia." — Nicole, 6th grader at Lenox Academy

Taikoza, a Japanese music ensemble that features the awe-inspiring taiko drum, provides a unique perspective on Japanese culture. In this workshop, Taikoza introduces various traditional Japanese musical instruments by teaching the Japanese vocabulary related to the instruments along with the history of the ancient festivals that inspired the music. Dressed in traditional costumes that add to the visual excitement of the workshop or performance, the artists play a variety of Japanese instruments, such as the shakuhachi flute and the stringed koto. The workshop culminates with participants playing the instruments themselves.
Artists: Marco Lienhard & members of Taikoza (see Artist Bios)

The dances of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company fuse the freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of ancient Chinese art. The company’s choreography takes the audience beyond cultural boundaries to a place where tradition meets innovation, where East meets West. Single and multi-session workshops cover the ten elements of Chinese dance, including the spectacular ribbon dance. The company encourages students to engage in the visual, physical and narrative aspects of Chinese dance, seamlessly introducing them to Chinese culture in the process.
Artists: Nai-Ni Chen and members of the Company (see Artist Bios)
In most forms of Indian classical dance, such as Bharata Natyam, Odissi, and Kathak, the performer must be a storyteller, an actor, a musician, and a dancer. Students learn about the use of the eyes, neck, shoulders, and hands to accentuate the characters, actions, and rhythms of these ancient and venerated story-dances, as demonstrated by the artists. As a series of workshops, this program involves more advanced training: hand gestures, a stylized technique of mimed storytelling, and poetry that is sung or chanted along with dance. In performance, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna and other colorful figures come to life for the audience.
Artists: Parul Shah, Malini Srinivasan, Swati Bhise or Devika Bhise (see Artist Bios)
Chinese opera and martial arts workshops consist of demonstrations of various aspects of Chinese opera and martial arts and discussions of the ancient tales represented. The five elements of traditional Chinese opera are explained: singing, talking, acting, fighting, and tumbling, and are performed by the artists. Students participate by learning Mandarin words as well as appropriate stage-fighting techniques. In performance, the troupe wears colorful costumes and brings audiences into the world of ancient China.
Artists: Tung Ching Chinese Center for the Arts (Agnes Ho, Director) (see Artist Bios)
Asian art is rich in visual symbols drawn from various religions and philosophies. Students, with guidance from the teaching artist, analyze examples of Asian art to discover what these symbols, along with other artistic elements, tell us about the people of Asia, their beliefs and attitudes, and their world. Depending upon the time available, the teaching artist will include a hands-on art project, such as a model Japanese screen. An artist-led museum trip to see authentic art of this culture can be arranged.
Artists: Barbara Barry, Nicole Haroutunian, , Christopher Lea, Misha McGlown, Lance Paladino or Rose Pearlman (see Artist Bios)
For more information about Global Arts contact Regina Larkin, Manager of Education Programs, at regina.larkin@symphonyspace.org, (212) 864-1414 ext. 212.