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Dancing Across Borders


Dancing Across Borders began with University of Utah film students, under the direction of Ellen Bromberg, filming Karen dance rehearsals, performances, and interviews with the dancers in Salt Lake City, while Yda Smith used the interviews for qualitative research on why these youth chose to devote so much of their time to this cultural tradition.  After filming, Ellen, Yda, and Poe Wah, a local Karen leader and former resident of Umpiem Refugee Camp, traveled to the Thai-Burma border where they filmed elderly women at Umpiem Camp who graciously performed for the occasion.  They also filmed a Karen dance master who explained the history of the dance and trends in style over time.  Footage from Thai, Burma, and US locations where then edited into one film and the interview with the Karen dance master was edited with subtitles in English.  The film of the master teacher was then shown to Salt Lake City Karen dancers who were able to learn even more about the history of their dance and its specific forms. A later Bridging Borders trip provided an opportunity to take the film of the Umpiem dancers back to them so they could see themselves in performance.  

Partners: Karen Dance Group (Salt Lake City, Utah), Poe Wah (Utah-based Karen leader), Ellen Bromberg (University of Utah School of Dance), Dr. Yda Smith (Associate Professor in Occupational Therapy, University of Utah) 

Location:  Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) & Umpiem Refugee Camp (Thailand/Myanmar Border)

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