Soulful Productions Academy
Check out this great article in the Wisconsin State Journal featuring East High School students Mai Chee Thao, Kao Nou Thao, Jordan Xiong and our East MSCR Recreation Specialist, Mayder Lor!
Amid frigid weekend temperatures and snow piled high outdoors, Hmong students and their adviser celebrated a rainforest culture in the humid Bolz Conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
East 9th grader Mai Chee Thao and her sister, 10th grader Kao Nou Thao, wore traditional Hmong clothing as they danced to the song 'Hmoob Tsiab Peb Caug' by Leekong Xiong and Dalee Chang. Their synchronized movements reflected the words of the song about a Hmong New Year celebration where people dance and toss balls. The sisters said it feels great to perform a traditional song and to show it to others.
East 11th grader, Jordan Xiong, sang in Hmong and played the guitar while wearing traditional Hmong clothing. He was performing an original song he wrote about love, choosing a life partner and building a life together.
Lor wore a traditional Hmong necklace as she was filmed preparing a papaya salad called thum mak hoong. She is a performing artist and professional emcee who works around the country and created Soulful Productions Academy as an MSCR after-school club at East. Members of the group practice and then perform singing, rapping, dancing and other talents for special events at East and at other venues.
“Our kids have a gift that they want to tap into and I want it to become a reality for them,” Lor said. “It creates a lot of confidence in our students.”
Mai Chee Thao said Soulful Productions Academy helps students who want to show their talents to others people and get better at them.
“Soulful Productions Academy is (a place) where I can practice my dance with my friends and meet other students, too,” Kao Nou Thao said.
"It’s a good way to put yourself out there and put your culture out there," Xiong said about performing.
The Laos Rainforest Rhythms videos will be available for viewing on March 15th at olbrich.org/events/RainforestRhythms.cfm.
To get involved in East's Soulful Production Academy, contact Mayder Lor.