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  • Writer's pictureKathy Chin Leong

Layton Duong: Chinese Performing Arts Champion

Cultural ambassador Layton Duong dedicated his life to sharing the beauty of Chinese traditional performing arts. As a young fourth-generation Chinese-American, he yearned to learn more about his heritage, so he sought out a kung fu teacher and studied Chinese martial arts and lion dance. Later, Duong majored in Chinese Studies at San Francisco State University. Post college, he moved to Taiwan to fully immerse himself in learning the Mandarin language and culture. Duong mastered the distinct performing arts style of the Shanxi region. When he returned to San Francisco, he founded the award-winning Yellow River Drummers (YRD) which amazed audiences for years. YRD had the honor of drumming at the 2008 Olympic torch relay ceremony in San Francisco.

In addition, Duong taught Yangge dance skills which included drumming, ribbon and fan dancing, and stilt walking to students at the West Portal Elementary School Chinese Immersion Program (CIP). Pastor Don Ng remembers his late friend as one who “forged ahead when others took the safer route. He brought back new ideas for us and the larger community to enjoy. What he found was that God blessed him and gave him endless passion to live his life fully and faithfully." Today, CIP students still delight crowds with Yangge dance at the Chinese New Year Parade. Janet Chan, wife and widow, says, “Layton’s joy and zest for life have left a lasting impression on many who were fortunate enough to know him."

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