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July 19, 2004

EastDay, Shanghai

Ah, those Ivy League boys. They sing, they dance, they impersonate women - and people around the world flock to see them do it. They are the Harvard Din & Tonics a cappella group, and they make their China debut in Shanghai this Wednesday. The 13-men troupe describes what they do as 'a cappella ... with a twist," and that twist distinguishes them from the traditional Ivy League a cappella groups like the Yale Whiffenpoofs and the Harvard Krokodiloes. Like most a capella groups, the Dins' repertoire is anchored on the American jazz standards of the 1920s through the 1940s. The Din and Tonics, however, also embrace everything from Broadway musicals to pop, spiritual, rock 'n' roll, calypso, swing and folk.

They dance, they flip, they pause, mid-song, for an impromptu bit of theatrics, leaving the audience in stitches. One man plays the beautiful 'girl," and the rest of the troupe pant after 'her." 'Miss Din" plays it to the hilt, twisting wandering wrists and indignantly slapping faces. The Din & Tonics, founded in 1979, is a young upstart in an institution where singing and theater groups boast legacies going back centuries - but perhaps that is part of their charm.

They have taken that charm on the road, where audiences have delighted to their precise musicality, stylistic choreography, and irrepressible sense of humor. 'We've built a reputation across five continents for pleasing audiences of all types," says Pablo Ros, the Dins' world tour manager. Ros adds that the group has an impressive resume of prestigious venues and audiences, performing before the former US President Bill Clinton, United States ambassadors, jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald (who proclaimed herself 'very impressed") and actress Julia Roberts, and appearing on 'Good Morning America," a popular, nationally-televised program in the United States. The troupe's 10-week world tour, which began last month, has taken them to Oslo, London, Brussels, and Rome already, and after Shanghai, they will head to Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney .

In addition to fabulous entertainment and being 'wonderful cultural ambassadors," in the words of Michael Sullivan, US ambassador to Ireland, the Dins are here to do some good. The Dins will also be 'charity ambassadors" for the children of migrant workers in Shanghai, part of Project Integration, a program of the German Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. The project works with Shanghai public schools willing to admit migrant workers' children and private schools offering a reasonable standard of teaching.

Posted by acapnews at July 19, 2004 9:58 PM


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