Shanren in DeKalb, IL

By Emily Anderson. Photos by Shigeyo Henriquez.

Shanren recently completed a tour with Arts Midwest World Fest. They have since returned to their home in China, but the ensemble really left a lasting impression on the Midwest! The next few blog posts will be all about the communities Shanren visited here on their tour. We hope you enjoy learning about their journey.

After a few days of recovering from jetlag in Chicago, Shanren began a whirlwind tour of the Midwest with a week in DeKalb, Illinois.

The first day of workshops began at DeKalb High School, where they impressed audiences with their unique traditional instruments and folktales from the southwestern Chinese province, Yunnan. They shared a tribal dance of the Yi people, one of at least 26 tribes in Yunnan, and the students at DeKalb High School, as well as the middle and elementary schools that the band toured later in the week, all enjoyed joining in the dance as well.

Students at DeKalb High School learning the Left Foot dance.

To close their first day in DeKalb, Richard Holly, the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Arts Midwest World Fest’s community partner, Northern Illinois University, hosted a welcome reception at his home. In this video, band members play their traditional Chinese instruments.

Thanks to Richard for welcoming Arts Midwest World Fest into his home, and for all of the work to make this first week of residencies a success for Shanren!

The band posed for a group shot with the students after a great workshop at DeKalb Middle School.

The Left Foot Dance proved to be a hit with audiences of all ages: these students at DeKalb Middle School are letting loose and having fun with the band.

The Left Foot dance was equally popular at Northern Illinois University, where Arts Midwest World Fest community host Richard Holly (center) joined in the fun.

During their time in DeKalb, Shanren made fast friends with the teachers, students, and community members they met. Allison Liska, the music teacher, at DeKalb Middle School, pictured above, on the right suggested some Midwestern Fall traditions to the band: a corn maze! Luckily the band was able to find their way out, and even had some Halloween fun at a local haunted house.

A corn maze completes the Midwestern fall experience for Shanren.

After 11 workshops about traditional Chinese music in just one week, the band delighted audiences at their public concert by blending traditional instruments and music with rock elements. The kids from the community who had learned the Left Foot dance of the Yi people came up on stage with Shanren at the end of the show.

After the concert Shanren members were asked to autograph posters and CDs.


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