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Jasmine Dancers Made Difference Again
by Jasmine Board

On September 7th, 2014, the Eve of the Chinese Moon Festival, Jasmine Chinese Dance Group (Jasmine) hosted its second annual benefit dinner at the Indian Creek Church for Operation Breakthrough(OB). The event turned out to be a great success, with an attendance of about 200 people and a total of $2,600 raised for OB's 2015 Summer Enrichment Program to benefit impoverished children in the Kansas City metro area. OB is an early education child care and social services facility in Missouri serving over 400 children daily from the urban core. The mission of OB is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment. Since 2013, Jasmine Giving Heart Youth Program has raised about $5,000 for Operation Breakthrough.

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The benefit dinner was organized by Cindy Wang, Youth Director of Jasmine’s Giving Heart Youth Program. On the event day, Jasmine Board members, many other Jasmine youth and adult members and parents volunteered in making this event successful, from setting up the event area, serving the food, to bringing performances to the guests, as well as cleaning up the area after the dinner.

Currently a senior at the Pembroke Hill School, Cindy Wang started the Giving Heart Youth Program in 2011 and organized the first Moon Festival Benefit Dinner for OB in September 2013, which raised $1300 for OB's 2014 Summer Enrichment Program. She began to plan the second Moon Festival Benefit Dinner in July. It was about a two month preparation process, including contacting sponsors, recruiting guests, designing the event ad and program, shopping food, and hand making decoration etc.

Since its founding in 2008, Jasmine has extended its reach out to local communities, and has better defined its purpose of being a small but meaningful organization. Jasmine not only plays a big role in involving American-born Chinese youth in various aspects of Chinese culture, Jasmine also provides a great platform to help these kids to give back to their communities. Jasmine will continue to benefit our communities by going along with its mission statement: Share Chinese culture through dance performances; and build friendship through community service.

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Festivities at the Nelson!
by Mulan Jiang

Dancers rushed back and forth from the dressing room and the stage, wearing beautiful white swan costumes, long emerald-green dresses, and bright ruby-red attire. It was Friday, January 31st, 2014 and the performance at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art was about to start. Everyone anxiously waited for the rest of their dance team to show up, hoping they wouldn't be trapped in the snow storm. Sooner or later, most dancers arrived. The music started, and the performers began to dance, swishing their ribbons and twirling their umbrellas.

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There was a Mongolian dance, a fan dance, a long ribbon dance, an umbrella dance, a basket dance, and a swan and sunflower dance. The audience watched, mesmerized by the elegant swans, the cute little sunflowers, the flowing ribbons as they cut through the air, the multicolored fans, and the graceful dancers with their red umbrellas.

Before the spectacular performance, the Jasmine Board handed out the annual Jasmine Star awards. The Jasmine Star award is a trophy given to the top six dancers who have done the most community service within Jasmine. This year's awardees were Cindy Wang, Élan Jiang, Melody Jiang, Elaine Zhu, April Ma, and Mulan Jiang.

Dancer Élan Jiang says, "I really want to perform again at the Nelson next year!"

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Giving Heart at Grace Gardens
by Serena Xiao

On March 8th 2014, the boys and girls from Jasmine brought happiness and warmth to the senior residents of Grace Gardens. The audience was amazed with the traditional Chinese dances and beautiful piano and violin music.

The first dance was a graceful umbrella dance performed by Elan Jiang and Vivienne Yan. The audience's attention was immediately grabbed by the talented, young girls. Frankie Fu's Latin dance was brimming with enthusiasm and the piano performances by Mulan and Amanda brought a

 
peaceful feeling to the people. The Fan and Mongolian dances by Serena, April, and Katherine introduced the Chinese culture to the residents. The adorable girls Gloria, Vivienne, and Rylie, portrayed three happy girls picking mushrooms under the sun. Three stunning violin pieces were also performed by Elan, Serena, and April. The youngest kids, Jennifer and Andrew, blew everyone away with their piano gifts.

All the talented, young performers received much applause from the crowd. This activity was beneficial to both the residents and the participants. The elders enjoyed the time, and the performers learned how to serve the community.

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Giving Heart at Grace Gardens
by Aleena Li

Happy Chinese New Year! We should share our celebration and happiness with the people around us. And that is exactly what some young members of the Jasmine Dance Group did. On January 30, 2014, the performers Aleena Li, Cindy Wang, Elaine Zhu, and Lillian Li presented a great Chinese New Year performance to the residents of Overland Park Place (nursing home). The graceful dances and the beautiful piano pieces made the residents and workers thunder with applause. All the elderly people were thrilled when they saw the colorful presentation.

 
One lady in particular was very pleased about seeing the show. “They are all very talented, and they should be proud of themselves.” She exclaimed. The dancers were also very happy to share the exciting mood of the New Year. “It made us feel good inside when we saw their faces after the show.” Said the team. Overall, it was a lovely performance, and everyone loved it.

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Young Dancers Put Talents to Use to Help Other Children
by Jasmine Board

About 106 people gathered at BoLings restaurant Sunday (September 15th) evening to celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival, invited there by youngsters who use their love of Chinese culture to help other area youth.

The event, organized by Jasmine Youth Giving Heart Program, featured traditional Chinese food, including homemade Moon Cakes, live music, solo dances and information about how the Moon Festival is celebrated in China. It was proudly sponsored by Bo Ling's, Chinese Cultural Connection, and Pembroke Hill Asian Club. The goal of the dinner was to fundraise for the 2014 summer program of Operation Breakthough, a child care and social service agency that serves more than 400 Kansas City children each weekday at 31st and Troost.

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In the "Thank You" letter that OB sent to Jasmine, "... You introduced us to many new people by working so hard to spread the word about the dinner and sign up guests. That exposure is priceless. On top of that, you helped us gather together some of our longtime supporters and show them a good time. Everyone raved about the food and what an enjoyable evening they had. That goodwill is priceless, as well. And to top it all off, you raised more than $1,300 for summer activities for our schoolage children. These are children who might otherwise be home alone all summer, in unsafe neighborhoods. With your help, they will be able to spend their summer days here at Operation Breakhtrough, working on reading skills, learning to swim, engaging in arts classes and performing community service. You are making a big difference in their lives..."

“We are excited to be able to raise support for children in need, while doing something we enjoy,” says Cindy Wang, age 16, director of the Jasmine Youth Giving Heart program. In June, the Jasmine Youth Giving Heart Program donated $1,000 to Operation Breakthrough, to help provide summer enrichment activities for school-age children from low-income families.


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Jasmine Picnic
by Jasmine Board

After two reschedules due to weather, Jasmine finally had its all member picnic on Saturday, Sep. 14th at shelter #9 at the Heritage Park of Overland Park. Together, about 70 adults and kids enjoyed not only authentic Chinese food brought by each family, but also had lots of fun through games organized by Jasmine youth members. Some had never been to the park before, so they were happy to get to know the place through the event.

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Giving Heart at Operation Breakthrough
by Jasmine Board

On Friday, June 14, 2013, five Jasmine members, led by Youth Director Cindy Wang, dedicated their afternoon to helping Operation Breakthrough after presenting a donation of $1000 to their summer enrichment program.

Operation Breakthrough is a KCMO non-profit organization that provides a "safe, loving and educational environment" for children from ages 0-13 living in poverty. "The donation will help unfortunate kids take part in summer activities instead of being home alone while their parents are at work," says Jennifer Heinemann, the Associate Development Director of Operation Breakthrough." In the morning [during the summer enrichment program], children focus on reading comprehension and vocabulary, and in the afternoon, they participate in extracurricular activities such as swimming, basketball, African dance, gymnastics, and many more."

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Started and led by Cindy Wang, Jasmine Youth "Giving Heart" program is a community service program whose purpose is to enlighten and enrich others lives though our performances. Since 2011, Jasmine youth members has regularly performed at local senior homes. To make an even bigger impact in the community, in 2012, Giving Heart program started fundraising through dance performances. The $1,000 donation to Operation Breakthrough was its first donation collected in the past few months. After volunteering on June 14th, Cindy explains, "The moment I saw so many happy faces at Operation Breakthrough, I knew immediately that we did not want to stop there. We would like to raise more money to help those kids living in poverty. It's so wonderful to know that we can help others by using our special talents."

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Dancers That Write
by Elaine Zhu(12 years old), Jasmine News Writer

The young dancers of the Jasmine Chinese Dance Group gathered at Cindy Wang’s home, but on this occasion, not for dancing. On February 18, 2013, writers for the Jasmine Chinese Dance Group’s website assembled for an intensive writing lesson on news articles. The people who attended were Mulan Jiang, April Ma, Austin Tang, Anna Tang, Elaine Zhu, Amanda Chen, and Jessica Shower.

The training lesson was given by Cindy Wang, a Jasmine Youth director and News Writer. Cindy currently writes for the Pembroke Hill high school newspaper, “The Voice”, and decided to help other Jasmine news writers with their news writing skills when she realized the demand of the Jasmine website. Cindy first taught the students the basics, like what to put in each article. She then explained what one should put in each paragraph and how to make an article more interesting to readers. The participators took many notes and listened intently to Cindy while she explained the steps on how to write news articles. We also looked at some previous articles to see how they could be more interesting. Whether they were young or old, all of the students discussed the improvements that could be made and spoke their ideas.

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Before I came to this lesson, I thought writing was boring and unexciting. After the writing session, I started to enjoy writing news articles. Many people also have experienced this, even Cindy Wang. She told me, “For a lot of people, writing news articles can be boring or tedious. I felt the same way at first, but after taking a JanTerm class about writing articles at school, it completely revamped the way I approach articles and the attitude I approach it with. After experiencing this change, I wanted to share it with other people who might be stuck in the same situation or just want to learn more about writing articles.”

The students who attended were from age six to twelve, and many of them haven’t had real life experience in writing news articles for a website. After the class, they felt more confident in their writing skills and were eager to try to write more news. “I just received articles from two Jasmine writers who attended the training session, and there are many visible improvements,” said Cindy Wang, “I am so glad they learned new things in my class. Hopefully, we can get more training sessions set up so we can all learn from each other and improve together.”

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Giving Heart at Santa Marta
by Cindy Wang(15 years old), Jasmine News Writer

Jasmine youth performers staged a diverse cultural performance at the Santa Marta Retirement Living Community on Saturday, February 16, 2013 to mark the Chinese Lunar New Year. The performance, organized by the Jasmine Giving Heart youth program, included a lantern parade, Chinese folk dance performances, and violin performances. Gloria Meng, April Ma, Aleena Li, Lillian Li, Renny Ma, and Cindy Wang, among others, displayed their knack for performing as they paraded around the nursing home, fans and lanterns in hand.

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"It's such a privilege to have Jasmine come and perform for us every year," says Carol Cowdrey, event coordinator at Santa Marta. She adds, "I know that all of the elderly enjoy watching the performances, particularly because they love to see the children. It reminds them of the wonderful joys of childhood."

Perhaps the most impressive performer of the day was little Gloria Meng, only 5 years old. Her improvisation skills came into play when it became known that the correct music to her red ribbon dance was unavailable. However, this conflict did not daunt Gloria; still excitedly waving her red ribbons, she jumped and twirled to a completely different track, topping off her successful extemporaneous performance with an elaborate wave of her red ribbon.

Other performances included the traditional, upbeat Su Bei Yangge dance by Cindy Wang, a graceful Dai dance expertly performed by April Ma, Aleena Li, and Lillian Li, and a captivating violin performance by April Ma.

And this performance is far from the last. Jasmine youth members are going to be returning to Santa Marta next year to celebrate the Year of the Horse. Cindy Wang, youth director of the Giving Heart program, can hardly wait, "Every year, I look forward to celebrating Chinese New Year with those at Santa Marta. I love being able to see the impact we are making on their faces. It makes me the happiest person in the world to see them smiling or clapping along with the music. I hope that more and more youth performers join us next year to feel that same joy inside."


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KCCA: Introducing the Year of the Junior Dragon
by April Ma (11 years old), Jasmine News Writer

The audience’s cheer fills the voluminous auditorium of Indian Creek Church as the dancers gracefully parade offstage. The crowd is eager for another vibrant display of Chinese culture on stage performed by Jasmine, Legacy, and other dance troupes. On this Saturday evening of February 9th, KCCA celebrates the year of the Junior Dragon, or in short, the Year of the Snake.

Currently, backstage is a hustle as dancers hurry to their places. With makeup and costumes on, the performers of Red Blessing, one of the two Jasmine dances, are all set to charm the audience.

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In Red Blessing, the dancers playfully skip with the traditional Chinese lantern, which is attached to a long, wooden stick. Performed by Elaine Zhu, Mulan Jiang, Lily Jiang, Aleena and Lillian Li, Serena Xiao, April Ma and many other young girls, this dance is a resemblance of joy and happiness while celebrating the prosperous New Year. The second Jasmine dance was the Dai Dance, in which the performers utilized elaborate hand and body movements to mimic the peacock. Made to show the beauty and grace of the paradise bird, this piece of choreography was performed by Aleena Li, Lillian Li, Serena Xiao and April Ma.

Gloria Meng, one of the youngest dancers who performed in Red Blessing, expresses her love for Chinese folk dancing after the performance, “It was the funnest [most fun] time I ever have!” says Gloria Meng. She's not the only who thinks so; performers and audience alike return year after year to the annual celebration that keeps getting better and better. After all, what better way to celebrate a fresh start to the new year?


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Crowded with Delight at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
by Amanda Chen(11 years old), Jasmine News Writer

Xin nian hao! Happy New Year! Join me with a group of lively females who express their holiday wishes with a wave of a ribbon or a twirl of their lantern.

On Friday, February 8, 2013, Jasmine dancers with other invited groups performed at the China Day event hosted by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to celebrate Chinese New Year, which is on February 10, 2013. Dancing in elaborate costumes, with fans and Chinese lanterns in hand, they left the audience cooing at their cuteness or marveling at the agility and great choreography. As I watched, I felt mesmerized by their enthusiasm and energy.

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The total number of people at the event was 4,198, a record-breaking showup for the event. Although it was crowded, it lent a cozy, bustilng feeling to the atmosphere, a perfect setting for Chinese New Year.

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Jasmine Dancers Made the Competition
by Jasmine Board

With proud smiles, the winners held their tropies onstage at the 3rd Kansas City Chinese Dance Competiton at the JCCC Polsky Theater on February 2, 2013.

Competing in six different catagories, all contestants from ages 7 to 15 displayed their best performance skills, offering the audience quality visual enjoyment. "I can see the progress the dancers make each year," Michelle Hamlet-Weith praised, one of the judges from the Legacy School of the Arts.

Most of the competition winners were Jasmine members. They were Melody Jiang, Lillian Li, Serena Xiao, Aleena Li, and Cindy Wang, who all received 1st place in their competing catagory.

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The competition winners, judges, event emcee pose with some young audience members.

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"The best performance I've ever been to..."
by Mulan Jiang(11 years old), Jasmine News Writer

As hundreds of people file into Johnson County Community College, dancers anxiously peek out from behind the curtains. It's February 2, 2013, and everyone has gathered once again at the KCCAA New Year Gala to celebrate the Year of the Snake.

Backstage, the dancers, dressed in beautiful costumes, stretch and review their moves. Round, crimson lanterns in hand, the Jasmine girls line up in preparation to go on stage, decked in red costumes trimmed with white fur.

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All of the performers gather for group photos after the encore performance at the 2013 KCCAA Gala.
The lights dim down to signal the beginning of the performance. and the emcees walk on stage to begin the show. Before they know it, it's time for the young Jasmine dancers to perform a red lantern dance, Red Blessing. In this dance, the red lanterns symbolize happiness and good luck. The dancers show the happiness that the red lanterns also demonstrate very well. Soon after is a dance from the KCCAA Dance Team. Using fans, they perform an elegant and contemporary version of the traditional fan dance.

The Jasmine girls have all been working very hard. The girls practice once a week, one or two hours every practice. Practices have been going on for half a year. The youngest dancer is only four years old while the oldest dancer is fourteen.

Jasmine dance members Elaine Zhu, Mulan Jiang, and Cindy Wang also received community service awards from the KCCAA, sponsored by Waddell and Reed. Elaine Zhu and Mulan Jiang both achieved third place, while Cindy Wang received second. All three girls have been actively participating in Jasmine Community Service events and other forms of community service.

After the show, an audience member remarks, "I loved the red lantern dance the most. The kids were all so organized and together." Another audience member said, "I will definitely come again next year. It's a great show and I highly recommend it."

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Jasmine in 2012
by Jasmine Board

2012 was another successful year for Jasmine. Jasmine greatly thanks the people who supported Jasmine in the past!

In 2012, besides continuing to support local cultural events, Jasmine participated in the Chinese New Year Celebration event hosted by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, another opportunity for Jasmine performers to share the beauty of Chinese dances.

Led by Cindy Wang, the Jasmine youth program, Giving Heart, performed at local senior homes regularly. They will now also

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Some 2012 Jasmine Stars
extend their service to another senior home, The Heritage of Overland Park, a home for the disabled elderly, in March 2013. Through this program, Jasmine youth members are making more positive impacts in the community.

Based on the community service hours that Jasmine youth members have completed with Jasmine, the Jasmine Board selected 7 girls who were ranked in the top 6 as 2012 Jasmine Youth Stars. They were Cindy Wang, Mulan Jiang, Anna Tang, Audrey Che, Elan Jiang, Jet Patterson, and Renny Ma.


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