Arts Mandalay Foundation set out in 2013 to help present Myanmar's unique cultural treasures to the world.
It began with a small group of people whose fascination with Burmese arts began in the 1980s. Their appreciation grew into a desire to preserve the beauty and meaning of the ceremonies, festivals and electrifying performances that have long defined Burmese traditional culture.
Connections with artists and teacher from the Pantra Art University in Mandalay led to the opening of the Mintha Theater in 2006. The Mintha Theater presented a nightly repertoire of Burmese folk, court and Buddhist stories in music, dance, and acrobatic theater.
The Lonely Planet, Myanmar Times, Routard Guides, and Trip Advisor all recommended the shows for their authenticity and dazzle. Reviews were nothing short of rapturous. Students from local arts schools gained valuable stage experience and charmed visitors from all over the world, leaving indelible impressions of the richness of Burmese culture.
Myanmar's modernizing economy brought more tourists, but also structural changes that affected the arts. The Mintha Theater lost its lease due to soaring rents. Westernized entertainment became popular, and classical dancers were reduced to 15-minute appearances. Government-supported arts education came to a near halt; arts teachers lost their jobs. An entire storytelling tradition was at risk.
Mandalay artists and Arts Mandalay founders regrouped. Re-opening the Mintha Theater was a priority. But if they didn't re-connect master teachers with young students, what would happen to Myanmar's 1,000-year-old traditions?
What began as a pilot project, a bamboo stage called The Mintha Theater, has blossomed into an organization to help preserve the authentic artistry of Burmese performers during a time of rapid social and economic change in Myanmar.
Arts Mandalay founder Daniel Ehrlich's book, Backstage Mandalay: The Netherworld of Burmese Performing Arts...
"a love letter to Myanmar and a plea to the Asian nation as it modernizes to resist forgetting the great ceremonies that uniquely define it in the world...." Jan Gardner, The Boston Globe, February 23, 2013...
The book is available at Amazon.com and at https://backstagemandalay.wordpress.com/