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Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: Chao Phra Ya Thai Cultural Performing Art Group

By Hillary Juster, NewsCastic

Whether you love sushi, your Samsung phone, or the hit show Quantico starring Priyanka Chopra, you have Asian culture invested in your life in one way or another. What better way to celebrate the heritage of the various Dallas Asian cultures than a huge festival? We’re bringing you the highlights of the kick-off for the big AsiaFest on May 7th from the Asian Cultural Expo at the Courtyard Theater on March 20th. There we delighted in everything from traditional garb to calligraphy demonstrations, to stylish traditional dances.

You won’t want to miss it!

Cool Calligraphy from a Courthouse Translator

Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: Michael Liang “Plum Tree”


Although Michael Liang works a day job as a courthouse translator, you wouldn’t guess it from his exquisite calligraphy. The lyrical piece above, called “Plum Tree” contains a poem which roughly says that blossom may fall but the fragrance stays the same. His art can be found in the collections of the Mayors of Plano and Richardson.


Master of Calligraphy Demonstrates Artistic Style

Apparently two styles prevail in the world of calligraphy, the more meticulous and legible style you see on Liang’s work, and the quick, artistic style demonstrated above by calligraphy master Kaih Chan. He has studied the fine art of calligraphy since university, more than 50 years!


Ikebana: The Japanese Art of Flower Arranging

Photo: Hillary Juster

Amira Matsuda of Ikebana4U had her students display their thoughtfully crafted flower arrangements for our visual delight. Matsuda Teaches her students that balance and harmony between the container and the flowers, as well as color and texture, create the best arrangements.


Learn the Secrets of the Floral Arts

Photo: Hillary Juster Flower Arrangement: Amira Matsuda

Amira Matsuda has been teaching workshops on Ikebana for around 20 years out of her home. In April, she’ll be opening a studio in Plano called “Bloom Couture,” where she will be offering her classes. If you find yourself nursing an interest in Ikebana, check out her website for her full schedule and updates.

Photo: Hillary Juster

According to Renee Zhang, the President and Chairwoman of the Asian American Cohesian Foundation, a group of deaf women in Shanghai handmade this scarf. One in a series of 10, the baby soft scarf has cashmere on one side and silk on the other. At $95 each, all of the proceeds go to support the women who made them. If you’re interested in purchasing one, please contact


Calligraphy Painting by a Professor and Martial Artist

Photo: Hillary Juster Painting: Professor Qianyuan Zhang

Professor Qianyuan Zhang at the UTD Confucius Instutite completed this large-scale painting, named “Peace and Understanding.” He originally appeared in a suit and tie, but had to quickly change in order to demonstrate Taiji.


All Kinds of Art from this Professor

Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: Qianyuan Zhang


This Taiji demonstration was something else. Performing in front of his own work of art, Professor Zhang commanded the space. Literally! When his routine interfered with the crowd, he did not change his routine. The people in the audience scattered like birds.


This Festival Brings out all the Power Players

Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: (Right to left) LaShon Ross, Deputy City Manager of Plano, Jian Li, Event Organizer, Tom Harrison, City Councilor for Plano

As these gifts changed hands from one of the event organizers, Jian Li, to the officials from the City of Plano, you could sense how important AsiaFest had become to the community. In its 13th year, AsiaFest now typically draws around 10,000 curious guests. The City Councilor Tom Harrison and the Deputy City Manager LaShon Ross were on site to accept the tokens.


AsiaFest: Food, Fashion, Fun on May 7th

Nashima Chowdhury, one of the event organizers, assured us that this large festival will be inclusive to everyone. Adults and children, Asian and non-Asian alike, all are welcome at the upcoming event, AsiaFest. Nothing brings people together like food, fashion, and fun!


Indian Traditional Dance: A Stomping Good Dance

Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: Sampradaya Performing Arts 

The Sampradaya Performing Arts had a trio of dancers stomping percussive beats and striking elegant poses in their Indian Traditional Dance called Thillana. With bells on their ankles, the dancers punctuated their steps with sounds and maintained an impressive precision in their motions.


Chinese Folk Song: The Melody of a Concealed Ache

This Chinese folk song, called Tea Stall in Qianmen, felt full of hidden meaning. The singer was a woman disguised as a man around the time of the Chinese Republic. She walked in and out of opening and closing umbrellas while she opened and closed her own fan. Nothing in this performance, however, felt open and shut.


Thai Princess Dance: The Most Glittery Dance of All

Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: Chao Phra Ya Thai Cultural Performing Art Group

The costumes for this Thai dance were so glittery, gold and pretty, of course it had to be about a princess! The Chao Phra Ya Thai Cultural Performing Art Group had a slow and deliberate pace for their dance, so each movement seemed highly considered. Only for a moment did the princess in the back come forward.


Filipino Folk Dance: Don’t Drop the Cup!

Photo: Hillary Juster Pictured: Maharlika Dancers

If you didn’t notice at first, that’s a glass cup of water on the center dancers head, with two smaller glass cups in each hand. Oh yeah, and she’s spinning in circles. This Filipino folk dance oozes fun and excitement and got everyone cheering and clapping. She didn’t drop them! How does she do it?


Mongolian Dance: A Flowing Dancescape

As you can see in the video, the Lisha Dance Studio cleverly used scenic lights to create a mountain scene. Their Mongolian folk costumes swayed gently like the music that accompanied their movements. The somber title of this piece is “Missing Home.”


Come See the Art, or Get a Booth Soon!

March 20th was the Asian Cultural Expo, but May 7th will be AsiaFest, the big event! So, come out to see the art at the Courtyard Theater, as one the event organizers Dr. Jian Li urged you, or find out more information about the big festival in May at There’s still time to reserve a booth, sponsorship, or slot to perform for May. Don’t put it off before it’s too late! How many events get you in front of 10,000 people?