Prominent performing groups, rising Taiwanese stars and artists, and Aboriginal musicians, together with heavy doses of Taike (台客) culture, are to take center stage at this year’s TaiwanFest in Canada, which opens tomorrow in Toronto.
Founded in 1990 by the Vancouver Formosa Academy, the festival is also known for showcasing Taiwanese food and specialty dishes, which visitors can sample at the “Friendship Kitchen” program and stalls around the venue.
The festival is to run from tomorrow to Sunday at the Harborfront Centre, Asian-Canadian Special Events Association managing director Charlie Wu (吳權益) said.
Photo: Shen Chao-liang, courtesy of the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association
It is then to move to Vancouver on Labor Day weekend, from Saturday next week to Sept. 2, along Granville Street and areas around the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Wu said the festival would feature a “Taiwan stage” (台灣野台) — a mechanical contraption mounted on a truck that transforms into a colorful stage on which Taike-style entertainment is offered during temple celebrations, weddings, political rallies and other local events.
The word Taike refers to grassroots Taiwanese and a subculture built around them that is considered quite fashionable among younger Taiwanese.
Featured performers this weekend include indie band Sorry Youth (拍謝少年), three young Taiwanese rockers who play modern and traditional instruments, and sing in a mix of Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) and Mandarin.
“We sing about our experiences and stories, and to compare and contrast Taiwan’s contemporary culture with its past,” guitarist Weni said, adding that he is looking forward to making friends with other Canadian and Taiwanese musicians at the event.
The festival also features a “Taiwan Street Arts” program, with stage art creations by the graphic designer known as “Milkfish Man,” an animated film by visual artist Lee Wen-cheng (李文政), and techno-dancing “Robot princes.”
Other performers include the Ju Percussion Group, Aboriginal musician Suana Emuy Cilangasay, Toronto-based singer-composer Moulann (沐嵐) and the “Celebrate Women Concert” in collaboration with Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University Concert Orchestra.
In a continuation of the “Dialogue with Asia” series that links Taiwan’s cultural and human interactions with neighboring Asian nations, Wu said that this year’s theme is “Riding the Waves With Vietnam,” which is to feature cultural programs and activities hosted by Caroline Nguyen (阮秋姮), a Vietnamese married to a Taiwanese who resides in Taiwan.
Now a fluent speaker of Mandarin, Nguyen has helped bridge the Taiwan-Vietnam cultural gap with her online program and is best known for serving as a co-emcee at the Double Ten National Day celebration last year.
“The Dialogue series began with Hong Kong in 2016, then Japan in 2017 and the Philippines last year,” Wu said.
By working together, these international communities get to identify with and appreciate Taiwanese culture and our values,” he said.
For the culinary program Friendship Kitchen, organizers have invited three chefs: Josie Chang from Taichung, Allie Huang from Tainan and Nguyen Manh Hung from Hanoi.
According to organizers, the three chefs have become friends because of their shared passion, and they will work together at the event with local chefs from Toronto and Vancouver.
Other programs include “Cinematic Taiwan,” which will feature films and documentaries; an exhibition on Taiwanese Aborigines; “Hope Talk,” with artists and cultural icons as speakers; and two special workshops on Vietnamese water puppet theater and Taiwanese puppet theater.
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