Free March 14 concert showcases Asian mythology, music and dance

Thai classical dance combines distinctive poses and movements with stories from Asian mythology. Wearing costumes that are works of art in themselves, musicians play xylophones, gongs, flutes, drums and a variety of stringed instruments rarely seen in Oregon.

On March 14, resident teachers from the Wat Buddhanusorn Thai-Buddhist Temple of Fremont, Calif. will introduce the Willamette community to Thailand’s rich music and dance. The university's Center for Asian Studies presents this free, all-ages event in Hudson Hall from 7:30-9 p.m.

“Many people in Oregon know very little about Thailand, other than Thai food at restaurants,” says anthropology professor Pamela Moro. “This is a great opportunity to learn about a highly sophisticated performing arts tradition that is very different from that of Western countries.”

The group will perform excerpts from Thai epics, including the “Dance of Sacrifice by Fire,” which features a mythic character who is half-bird and half-woman. Thai-American performers and visiting students from Bangkok will demonstrate traditions spanning two continents and multiple generations.

Moro, who has studied Thai music since the 1980s, will begin the event with a 10-minute introductory lecture about the visiting performers and her work with Thai-Americans in California. Similar to a study-abroad experience, cultural programs allow young adults from Thailand to spend a year living in the U.S., where they teach Thai-American communities about their heritage.