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Tong Pow: Dance Props - Tony Ward Studio

Tong Pow: Dance Props

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Photography, Text and Video by Tong Pow, Copyright 2017

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DANCE PROPS: JUXTAPOSITION OF THE VIBRANT AND THE OMINOUS

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The parasol used by the University of Pennsylvania’s  Pan Asian Dance Troupe in their traditional girls’ dance piece conspicuously, yet with veneration, carries with itself rich, deeply rooted, and controversial Chinese traditions. Though the one photographed for this still life series in reality is merely a prop. It is an anachronistic symbol that serves as the reminder of an ancient wives tale regarding its necessity to protect people from “the elements.”

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It also was used by people to showcase wealth and power, as many strove for a “bigger the better” mentality. I guess things haven’t changed that much even since ancient tChina. In considering my photographs for this series, I focused less on the parasols historical intricacies and more on the immediate visual and emotional impact it had on me.

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I was drawn by the smooth, homogenous, and innocently pink fabric (with exception of some minimally painted flowers) of the parasol’s outside, supported by an incisive, intricate mechanism underlying the parasol’s most basic practicalities, to open and to close. Light in a dark room illuminates further dimensions of the parasol, as its fabrics create shadows and colors that add interesting layers for the still life series.

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About The Author: Tong Pow is a freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2o20.

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