by Keoni Everington
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — September 18, 2004 — The Winthrop Chinese Martial Arts Association students performed in the Chinese Phoenix Arts Mid-Autumn Festival held in Uptown Charlotte on Saturday, September 18th.
The festival was organized by the Charlotte Phoenix Arts Association and was sponsored by the Arts Council. The festival featured activities such as Chinese folk dance, music, singing and magic shows.
As the only organization from a university to perform, Winthrop’s group stole the show in the eighth act of the main program. The group also grabbed the attention of the audience during a preview of scenes from their upcoming movie “The Dragon Must Sleep”. Performing scenes from the movie, which is produced and directed by Keoni and Richard Everington was only a hint of what would come.
Students Phouthong Phimmorath, Delmar Minor, Theresa Ferry and J.R. Johnson joined Everington and won a huge ovation from the crowd. The group demonstrated their knowledge of Chinese culture by incorporating choreographed routines, group form, individual form, music from the “Kill Bill” soundtrack and a small skit as part of their performance.
While at the festival, the Winthrop association was able to recruit new members as well as promote their movie. After the program, several students approached Everington, wanting to become a part of the association. J.R. Johnson, a senior and vice-president of the association, said the organization is not just about martial arts and learning how to fight. Aside from the obvious practice and performance, Johnson said members of the association “hang out, watch movies and go to various events.” He compares the relationship with his fellow members to the relationship that exists among a family or community.
“There has not been a time I have needed something that one of them has not been there,” Johnson said. During the festival Johnson performed assimilated combat with Everington and demonstrated aerial acrobatic techniques.
This was a first-time performance for Johnson. He said before [the performance] he did not feel confident in performing as it seemed too much like showing off, but now has come to realize that there is much more to Chinese martial arts, such as the beauty.
“It was lots of fun and I can’t wait to do it again next year.” Johnson said.