Multicultural artists to take the main stage at Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival kickoff

Chinese Music Ensemble
The Chinese Music Ensemble, the oldest and only fully Chinese orchestra in the U.S. and Americas, will kick off the day’s entertainment on the main stage. (Photo courtesy of Chinese Music Ensemble)

The 2021 annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, an international multicultural celebration and sporting event, is returning to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for a one-day, scaled-down event on Saturday, Aug. 7.

While the dragon boat races may be the main event, a host of other activities will be available during what is the oldest, longest and most traditional dragon boat festival in the United States. 

The Chinese Music Ensemble, the oldest and only fully Chinese orchestra in the U.S. and Americas, will kick off the day’s entertainment on the main stage at 11 a.m. featuring younger members, some in traditional costume, with solo performances on traditional instruments. 

Founded in 1961, the Chinese Ensemble’s present membership of nearly 50 musicians plays practically every type of Chinese music on Chinese instruments, both ancient and modern. In this performance, a smaller ensemble plays a selection of their repertoire complete with drums and cymbals. 

An opening ceremony will take place at noon with a special welcome and ribbon-cutting with brief remarks from local elected officials, sponsors and VIP guests officially kicking off the 2021 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York. 

In addition to the opening ceremony entertainment, ​​Dance China New York, the resident touring company at the New York Chinese Cultural Center, will also take the stage.

Dance China New York will also take the stage. (Photo: Yufen Kung, courtesy of New York Chinese Cultural Center)

Dance China NY’s dancers include internationally renowned artists from performing stages and academies throughout mainland China, Taiwan and the U.S. The dance company transports audiences to a world of colorful myths, historical dramas and timeless beauty, weaving a vibrant vision of China’s ancient indigenous folk cultures. 

Noted for pieces with powerful grace and contained elegance, Dance China NY performs regularly throughout the U.S. for audiences of all ages. 

At 2 p.m., the award-winning, ever-popular C.A.S.Y.M. STEEL Orchestra will return to the stage, presenting an ensemble from the larger group of 90-plus members between the ages of 7 to 21. The group will bring the hypnotic sounds of the islands to the festival with the playing of steel drums.

C.A.S.Y.M. STEEL Orchestra will return to the stage. (Photo courtesy of C.A.S.Y.M.)

Located in the heart of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, C.A.S.Y.M. Steel Orchestra Inc. aims to create a multicultural, multiethnic program to educate young people of Caribbean and non-Caribbean backgrounds about the Steel Pan art form. C.A.S.Y.M. Steel Orchestra is committed to positively impacting the character of our community’s youth, develop their self-esteem and pass on the tradition of achievement and success.   

Following C.A.S.Y.M. Steel Orchestra’s performance, The Shaolin Masters’ warrior monks from the Shaolin Temple will present an hourlong martial arts demonstration at 3 p.m.

The Shaolin Masters’ warrior monks from the Shaolin Temple. (Photo courtesy of Shaolin Temple)

In the history of the Shaolin Temple, founded in 495 A.D., generation after generation of monk generals and soldiers protected the temples from wars and riots of society.

According to the Shaolin Temple, kung fu is originally from Shaolin and is one of the greatest martial arts in the world. Wushu originated in China and it carries the essence of the Shaolin ancestors, its history, and has been a part of traditional Chinese culture for over 1,500 years. 

Throughout the day, master storyteller Jonathan Kruk will tell tales of dragons and kings, enchanting children with finger fables, stories, theater, myths, medieval legends and the lore of the Hudson Valley.

Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kruk)

Kruk will also share a tale of how dragon boat racing started.

A full-time storyteller since 1989, Kruk has appeared at thousands of schools, libraries, festivals and historic sites, many in Queens.