Ask 'Mimi,' March 13, 2016

Ask 'Mimi,' March 13, 2016

Does Al Huang still live in Urbana?

Yes, but the internationally known Tai Ji teacher, best-selling author and dancer spends a lot of time in other places teaching Tai Ji, including in California, where the famed Esalen named a Tai Ji deck after him. He's in Urbana now, having just returned from Hawaii and Oregon. Soon he will be off to Switzerland to teach. He will be here later this spring to teach his Tai Ji seminar May 28-June 1 at the Nevada Street Dance Studio in Urbana. It draws people from all over, not just locals. For information about it, go to or email Last month Huang also traveled to and taught in Hawaii, where he attended dancer Jean Erdman's 100th birthday celebration. He's been to the last four Erdman birthday parties and when she was 80, taught her Tai Ji. She continues to practice it today.

Erdman, who danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company, was married to Joseph Campbell, a writer and lecturer best known for his direction to "Follow your bliss." He died in 1987, at age 83, in Honolulu.

Were any young musicians from Illinois selected for the 2016 National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America?

Yes, I counted five Illinoisans among the 109 orchestra members; they include Uni High School junior James Vaughen, 16, of Champaign, who plays trumpet. He's among 38 returning musicians from the 2015 National Youth Orchestra.

This year, besides playing Carnegie Hall on July 14, the 2016 Youth Orchestra will tour Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Montpelier and Prague. Last summer, the musicians, who are age 16 to 19, toured China.

Besides traveling, James looks forward to the orchestra working with renowned conductors Christoph Eschenbach and Valery Gergiev and acclaimed pianists Emanuel Ax and Denis Matsuev. James continues to perform with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Is Steve Shoemaker compiling all the poems he's written?

Shoemaker, once a nominee for Illinois poet laureate, said he doesn't have plans to do that and doesn't know exactly how many poems he's written. Now 73, the Urbana resident began writing poetry as a student at Urbana High School, from which he graduated in 1961.

He told me his daughter, Marla, will take his 2,000-volume library of mainly novels, biographies and poetry and is helping him catalog the books. He's always loved reading, and while growing up, read a lot of Mark Twain. Recently, he's turned to Ring Lardner, best known for his satirical writings about sports, marriage and theater.

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Topics (2):Art, Music