MARSHALL - The Hmong population is made up of more than people who have fled their native land and need help in their new land, says a member of a dance troupe.
Ange Hwang of Iny Asian Dance Theater would like people to know more about the Hmong culture.
"We are not just refugees looking for help," she said.
The Hmong Spring Dance Festival will take place Friday and Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University. The two-day event will celebrate May Pan Asian Heritage Month and features the Iny Asian Dance Theater presenting "Longing for Qeej."
"We hope a lot of the mainstream will go to learn more about the Hmong culture," Hwang said.
The Friday performance is at 7 p.m. in the SMSU Fine Arts Theatre. "Longing for Qeej" is a Hmong dance drama interweaving contemporary dance with Hmong folklore and oral traditions. The qeej is a traditional Hmong pipe instrument that the Hmong have used for centuries during celebrations and ceremonies.
The Saturday event is a Hmong Community Day Fair and runs from 1-5 p.m. in the R/A Facility. The public is invited to meet and mingle with the dancers and see dance demonstrations.
"There will be fun things to do with kids. They can take photos with the dancers, learn a few steps and try on costumes," said Hwang. "There will be displays of Hmong culture."
Hwang said 22 dancers will come to Marshall out of the 65 dancers in the dance company. The ages range from 7 to 25 years old.
"The dance uses traditional music integrated with dance steps with a modern twist," she said.
The "modern twist" is "some flipping, cartwheel and jumping high," she said.
Admission is free to both events with the donation of a non-perishable food item supporting local food shelves.
This activity is funded, in part, by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council and Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund.