Mai Moua Thao was a speakers at the 2020 “Dancing while Hmong” event, a unique collaboration between Hmong Museum and MN Dance & the Ecstasies of Influences to share stories by dance practitioners and organizers from immigrant and refugee communities in Minnesota.
Why did you decide to participate in “Dancing while Hmong”?
“Actually I don’t feel like I’m qualified enough to be a part of this presentation because my dance experience really only started as of 2 years ago (2018). And because of this late start, I am not as connected to the dance community in Minnesota—particularly the Hmong dancer community.
Which is ultimately why I wanted to participate in this presentation. I’m a relatively shy person and am not good at social events so I hoped that through this talk, I’ll be able to connect with other Hmong dancers. I also hoped that adding in the perspective of someone who isn’t a senior in the dance scene would inspire those who may be interested in dance but feel too shy or feel like it’s too late for them to reach out of their comfort zone. You never know how much you can grow until you try.
I also wanted to participate because as a Media and Cultural Studies major—which is just a complicated way of saying I make films and critique society—I wanted to explore more with culture and its assimilations and exchanges. I want to keep shedding light on BIPOC perspective, specifically Hmong voices, Hmong experiences, and mine included.”
What do you hope people learn or walk away from this event?
“Dance builds and strengthens communities therefore we should fund it more and make it more accessible to youth and elders. Dance reflects cultural exchanges that shape our societies and thus it’s important that we see the values in this art form that has become so commercialized. Dance is a way to keep our cultures and our stories alive. I just hope that people will start to appreciate dance more. It is not just movement, it is community and culture! ”
What inspires you?
“I am inspired by stories: stories that are real, stories that have become myths and folklore, stories that are the everyday, and stories that happened once upon a time. Through dance, I want to bring to the stage the stories of my people and myself.”
More About Mai Moua Thao
Mai Moua Thao is a first generation student at Macalester College. Through the forms of dance and film, she aspires to tell the stories of her communities. She is passionate about Asian American representation on the screen and on the stage.
Mai’s Instagram : @maimouaa & @1808film | Mai’s Films on Youtube: MAENEE