Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Project Renew: Hip hop meets Asian traditional performances to benefit Lao Buddhist Temple rebuilding
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Project Renew: Hip hop meets Asian traditional performances to benefit Lao Buddhist Temple rebuilding

Project Renew was a night of cross-cultural splendor, with hip-hop dance groups alternating with traditional Asian cultural groups, including adorable little girls from the Lao Buddhist Temple; Denver Taiko’s thundering Japanese drums; a troupe that showed the Spirit of Cambodia; and Mudra Dance Studio, the energetic and dynamic group that mixes classical Indian dance with the flash and pop instincts of Bollywood choreography.

The event, organized by a pair of young Asian Americans, Joie Ha and Leo Tsuo, was a fundraiser for the Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado, which burned to the ground in December.

The concert was a success, filling the Davis Auditorium on the University of Denver campus and raising over $4,300 for the Laotian community.

The fundraiser was a testament to the sense of community unity between young people who identity as Asian Americans as well as by their ethnic heritage. The two event organizers are Chinese American, not Laotian. The amiable and effective emcee, Ellis Min, is a b-boy who is Korean American. And the presence of Japanese, Indian and Cambodian traditional performers in addition to the Laotian community’s traditional dance group, plus the mix of ethnicity among the hip-hop groups, is a reflection of the diversity of Asian America today.

Project Renew was a powerful statement. I expect more powerful statements will come from the area’s next generation of AAPI leaders.

You can still donate to the Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado’s rebuilding fund on their website.

Here’s the full performance by Hype 303, who I think are ready to audition for “America’s Best Dance Crew.” They closed out Project Renew with their rousing choreography: