Performing Ethnicity, Ma-Yi's Arts Festival and Conference in NYC

Posted by Lia Chang on Saturday, 25 September 2004.

Durng October, Ma-Yi presents the Performing Ethnicity Arts Festival and Conference in New York.

During the month of October, join international scholars and artists as they gather in New York at the Performing Ethnicity Arts Festival and Conference to investigate the legacies of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and how these influence the development of culturally specific works performed today.

From Oct. 15-17, highlights during the Conference presented by the Ma-Yi Theatre Company , include forums to articulate race and ethnicity as represented in the Fair and how they became integral building blocks in America's bid to forge a colonial empire.

In 1904, to celebrate America's new role as a colonial power and commemorate the Louisiana Purchase that consolidated the nation, the St. Louis World's Fair was presented to outshine the first world's fair of 1851, held in London.

For the crowning glory of American supremacy, the organizers of the St. Louis World's Fair of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 , promised to show "how a single century of free institutions and unfettered enterprise can transform a wilderness into populous, rich, and progressive commonwealths."

Thousands of tribes people from America's new colonies were put on display for a paying public. With this attempt to sell the New Empire, the pageant was orchestrated at the expense of racial and ethnic groups "housed" in various sections of the fairgrounds.

Igorots, Moros and Visayans from the Philippines; Eskimos, Cocopa, Sioux, Klaokwaht, Cheyennes, Maricopa, and Prima Indians, Batwa from the Congo, Patagonian Giants, and Ainus from Japan - were paraded and displayed in specially constructed pavilions made to look like their natural habitats.

The Philippine Pavilion, the largest of the "ethnic" houses, showed Igorot natives slaughtering and eating dogs. Audiences were then ushered to sausage stands, where the term "hot dog" was first coined to play on the gruesome dining habits of the Filipino "dogeater." Wildly popular with fairgoers, these displays became a mainstay for future world fairs.

From Oct. 10-31, selected productions during the Arts Festival include the New York sneak preview of International Wow Company's Death of Nations for 2 performances only on Oct. 16th at Teatro Heckscher of El Museo del Barrio , and Savage Acts , a new collaborative play by Kia Corthron, Jorge Ignacio Cortinas, Han Ong and Sung Rno at the Ohio Theatre, among others. For the full performing arts schedule, visit

International Conference: October 15 - 17, 2004
Arts Festival: October 10 - 31, 2004
For the complete schedule, visit

Jointly organized by Ma-Yi Theater Company, The University of the Philippines System, The City College of New York, and Philippine Forum.