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OLYMPICS/Nymphia Wind to present Formosan Follies at Paris Cultural Olympiad

05/12/2024 08:42 PM
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Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind (second left) is pictured with her audience during a performance in London on May 5, 2024. CNA file photo
Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind (second left) is pictured with her audience during a performance in London on May 5, 2024. CNA file photo

Paris, May 12 (CNA) Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind will make her presence at the Taiwan Pavilion in the 2024 Paris Cultural Olympiad with a "Formosan Follies" show, which she has said will introduce Taiwan's cultures to the international stage in resplendent fashion.

The 28-year-old is the first Taiwanese and first East Asian to be crowned the "Next Drag Superstar" in the globally acclaimed reality television series RuPaul's Drag Race in April this year.

Nymphia Wind is the drag persona of Leo Tsao (曹米駬), who goes by the pronouns he/him in everyday life, but by she/her in drag.

The newly crowned superstar was unveiled by Taiwan's Ministry of Culture as a performer for the Taiwan Pavilion at the upcoming Cultural Olympiad, an artistic celebration of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, as part of its "Taiwan and France" theme.

Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind (second left) performs in London on May 5, 2024. Photo: CNA
Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind (second left) performs in London on May 5, 2024. Photo: CNA

The other designated themes in the pavilion are "Voice of Freedom," "Island Elegance," and "Cultural Exchanges Between."

In a recent telephone interview with CNA from Paris, the drag queen revealed her performance will incorporate scenes from Taiwan with the Paris-inspired "Follies," including an all-Taiwanese cast and another drag queen.

In fact, prior to the appearance on international television, Nymphia and her drag family, "the House of Wind," had already been invited to perform, which offered an opportunity she could not refuse.

However, other than feeling there was little time to prepare properly, she found it challenging to conceive of a proper portrayal of Taiwan in a performance lasting 30 minutes.

Nymphia said much of the creative process is "waiting for inspiration" on how to present their Formosan Follies.

Photo courtesy of MTV
Photo courtesy of MTV

The performer said it was "significant" to showcase Taiwan, whether on the Drag Race or the Cultural Olympiad, because Taiwan is a small nation that does not receive much attention in international politics.

She pointed out that it is sometimes hard to find a national position for Taiwan, because "[discussions] always focuses on whether we are Taiwanese or Chinese."

On top of that, Taiwan consists of multiple ethnic groups while lacking a strong national identity, she said.

Therefore, Nymphia said she is "very honored to be able to introduce Taiwan as a drag queen."

This is because members of the LGBTQ+ community often face pressure from society, confusion regarding their self-identity, and an urge to express their true selves, which are all aspects she feels is similar to Taiwan's international experience.

Regarding gender issues in Taiwan, while observing both conservative and open ideas, Nymphia feels that more recently diverse opinions are being voiced and society is becoming more inclusive.

Graphic courtesy of Ministry of Culture April 30, 2024
Graphic courtesy of Ministry of Culture April 30, 2024

According to the Ministry of Culture, this will be the first time Taiwan has participated in the Cultural Olympiad under the "Taiwan Pavilion" banner, with a total of 22 teams and more than 120 people making presentations.

The pavilion at Parc de la Villette in Paris will put on 3-5 performances every day from July 27 to Aug. 10 to showcase Taiwanese arts and culture, the ministry said.

(By Tseng Ting-hsuan and Wu Kuan-hsien)

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