Ware Center Presents EAST MEETS WEST Tonight

As part of its Family Fun Fest series, the Ware Center of Millersville University will present "East Meets West" tonight, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. The show, comprised of vignettes blending characters and ideas from Asian and Western cultures and performed with original music, traditional Chinese dance and hand puppets, rod puppets and marionettes (or string puppets), is the creation of Beijing-born conceptual artist Hua Hua Zhang, a puppet designer and sculptor, choreographer and performer, and founder of her company, Visual Expressions.

Children may come to the Ware Center one hour before the show, at 6 p.m., to participate in creative, hands-on activities that reflect the themes of the show and enjoy a delicious, nutritious snack. After the show, they will have the opportunity to meet the artist.

According to the Zhang's creative vision, the stories of "East Meets West" reflect her experiences of living and studying puppetry in both China and America, and are expressed through the enchanting yet powerful medium of puppet art with the aim of creating cultural bridges, to broaden her audience's perspectives and open their hearts toward understanding and appreciating the differences-and similarities-between the cultures, leading to a more peaceful world. How do puppets have the power to do this? According to Zhang: "A puppet is a living sculpture that exists as its own unique vehicle for expression. Puppet art is for all ages and voices. It penetrates deeply into our hearts, desires and inner thoughts through the use of metaphor, abstraction and dream-like expression."

Puppets have long being the focal point of Zhang's artistry. Trained in classical Chinese puppetry by age 14 and a graduate of the Beijing Art Academy, she served as the lead performer for the Beijing Puppet Arts Troupe for more than 20 years, earning multiple accolades for her art while touring around the world, including an Excellence in Performance award by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China. In 1996, Zhang moved to America to continue her studies, earning an MFA from the prestigious Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut, where she received the university's Fine Arts Award for Excellence in 2000. Two years later, she established her company, Visual Expressions, to further develop her unique creative vision. Visual Expressions has earned Zhang grants from the Jim Henson Foundation and a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.

Recently, Zhang was honored with a Rocky Award of Dance/USA Philadelphia at FringeArts of Philadelphia on Sept. 15, in recognition of outstanding achievement in Greater Philadelphia's dance community.

Tickets for "East Meets West," $8 and $5 for kids age 12 and under, can be purchased at www.ArtsMU.com or by calling the ticket office of Millersville University, at 717-871-7600, or the Ware Center, 717-871-7018. Tickets may also be purchased at the front desk of the Ware Center, located at 42 N. Prince Street, Lancaster in advance of the show, or one hour before the show on the day of performance. Discount parking vouchers for the Prince Street Garage (at North Prince and West Orange streets) will be available at the Ware Center for the day of the performance.

For more information, contact Laura Kendall at the Ware Center, at laura.kendall@millersville.edu or 717-871-7018.

Family Fun Fest pre-show activities are made possible through a partnership with Fig Magazine, Lancaster Country Day School-Project Arts, Lancaster Public Library, the Creative Experiences for the Young Child class at Millersville University, the North Museum of Nature and Science, and Power Packs.

The Arts at Millersville University are made possible by Season Partner Rodgers & Associates and Season Sponsors include: Aussie & the Fox, Clipper Magazine, Hagelgans & Veronis, Hotel Lancaster, 12:34 MicroTechnologies, Ann B. Barshinger, Peggy Neff, Mary S. Burton & Laurent Home, Linda Holman Marcks, Mary Kearns and Jon Walker. Media Sponsors are: Fig Lancaster Magazine, Fine Living Lancaster, and the Lancaster Library System. The film series is sponsored by Carmen & David's Creamery.

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