The Words of the Selle Family

Little Angels Melt New Yorkers' Hearts

Bob Selle
June 23, 2010

They're the apple of the Big Apple's eye!

"Listening to them gives me like a spiritual experience," said one onlooker after seeing the Little Angels Children's Folk Ballet of Korea perform. "It's like a holy thing -- even though I'm not so religious. It brings tears to my eyes." The man, on the wait staff of the New Yorker Hotel, where the Little Angels stayed, spoke after hearing the children practice several songs right after breakfast one morning.

The sweetly innocent young performers evoked the same emotions in the crowds that pressed into the Manhattan Center later that day for a matinee performance at 3 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30 on June 15. With their remarkable blend of precision and soul, Korean-style, the Little Angels kicked off their new York City appearance with these two performances and two more the next day.

Their purpose? To give joy and comfort to all American veterans, to give them the honor their sacrifices deserve, and to thank America for having shed the blood of 54,000 of her sons in the defense of Korea from 1950 to 1953.

And they seemed to succeed admirably in their purpose. Streams o f veterans, many readily distinguishable by medals on their jackets or insignia from veterans posts on their caps, entered the historic performance hall on 34th Street, just off Eighth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Joining them were friends, family members, and many hundreds of lovers of dance and international culture.

After the program opened with a poignant 11-minute video describing the Korean War and how modern Korea and the Little Angels rose out of the ashes of a devastated land, several speakers, including Dr. Bo Hi Pak, gave welcoming remarks. During this introductory portion, and throughout the performance that followed, all of the veterans we could see were profoundly moved, many even to tears. Many were especially touched by a patriotic dance of the Little Angels to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever," and by the songs "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America," during which some vets stood and saluted as they wept.

Judging by the applause and cheers that erupted repeatedly, the audiences were absolutely thrilled by such dances as the Fan Dance. Here, the snap of the dancers' fans opening, and the swish of them closing, added to the excitement of the whirl and flow of the girls as they formed patterns on stage, dissolved them, and then formed new ones in feats of astonishing precision and brilliantly creative choreography. The Drum Dance was another crowd favorite. In it, a line of 15 girls, with six standing drums each, performed a dance in place, while beating their drums and clacking their drumsticks in perfect unison. They evoked a hint of African rhythm and soul that kept the atmosphere electric throughout.

Many of the veterans spoken with afterwards were brimming with joy at seeing the fruit of their sacrifice in Korea -- that is, these wonderful children, raised in a society of peace, freedom, and prosperity that they, the U.S. veterans, had helped bring about. When the GIs left Korea in the '50s, the society had been shattered. All buildings were in rubble, families separated, and children begging in the gutters.

But what a change 60 years has made! Today, South Korea is the world's 13th-largest economy, and is the most Internet-penetrated country in the world.

Next up for the Little Angels is a performance in Ottawa, Canada, another country that was part of the United Nations coalition that fought North Korean aggression in 1950-53. And then they will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will perform on the National Mall, near the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Friday, June 25, the day when North Korea invaded 60 years ago. The program will start at 10:45 a.m. with a military band, a chorus, and several speakers. Then the 33 girls and 1 boy will perform between 12:30 and 1 p.m.

We urge you to take that day off and come to our nation's capital with family and friends to enjoy a picnic on the grass of the Mall while viewing this historic performance by the Little Angels. It can be followed by hours of pleasant sightseeing, right in the vicinity of the performance. 

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