The Mesa Arts Center will step onto the international stage this weekend with a Chinese harvest celebration that will link performers from all over the world with television viewers in China.
Major metropolitan centers such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, also have been tapped this year by China’s largest state -sponsored television network to host shows. The network is recording each event for inclusion in its coverage of the Autumn Moon Festival, a Chinese celebration that is practiced throughout the world.
“It’s a big thing in China, just like Thanksgiving here,” said Diana Ho, arts director for Chandler’s Chinese Art Academy, which is providing dancers for the Mesa segment.
The Sunday event is expected to bring together Chinese Americans from across Arizona for a night of folk dancing, music and opera in the MAC’s 1,600-seat Ikeda Theater.
The event is open to the public, with tickets available from the MAC’s box office. Mesa event organizer Tony Kao said the idea is to document how the festival is celebrated in different places.
“They wanted to show the whole overseas community,” Kao said. “One China, one overseas China.”
Eighteen delegates from Kaiping — Mesa’s Sister City in southern China — will be in the East Valley this weekend to attend.
A NOD TO MESA
Mesa’s inclusion came at the last minute, said Kao, the former head of the Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix and current president of the Chinese Restaurant Association of Arizona.
Kao heard about the Chinese network’s globe-trotting plans three months ago, and he quickly approached executives to consider Mesa and its year-old, $98 million downtown arts center.
“Our center is brand new, a beautiful building,” Kao said. “Everything is perfect.”
Representatives from the network visited the MAC and gave the center high marks.
“That’s a wonderful thing to have happen,” he said.
Artists from the American Chinese Culture Association in Los Angeles will be doing many of the folk performances.
Randy Vogel, the MAC’s programming overseer, is quick to point out what the event means to the city and the center.
“The power of our local community organizations is not as well-known as it should be,” he said. “Here we have a showcasing of the city of Mesa and the Mesa Arts Center that can only help.”
Appearing on international television, though, means fudging a bit with the calendar.
The Autumn Moon Festival — also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, and characterized by the eating of dense, filled pastries called mooncakes — actually falls this year on Oct. 6.
(The Valley’s regular Autumn Moon Festival gathering, at the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix, will be that night.)
But this is a special opportunity to send a message from Mesa to mainland China, Ho said from her Chandler academy.
“The people (in China) will know what’s going on outside the country — that other people celebrate this holiday with them,” she said.