[Editor’s note: Amphaymany “Pi” Keohavong was one of the most successful former UL Lafayette students you’ve never heard of. He parlayed a natural talent for dance into an international touring career with some of the most prestigious dance companies. Keohavong, 39, died earlier this month after a brief battle with stomach cancer. Following is a tribute to Pi by friend and fellow theater student Michele Boulet.]
Once upon a time at a university in southwestern Louisiana there was a young man named Pi. He came from a far away place called Laos with his family to make a new life in America. In a beautiful Spanish town on the Bayou Teche the Keohavong family settled and prospered. The son went to USL, where he met a bunch of crazy-fun theater people who fell in love with him. How could they not? Pi was kind, smart, funny, handsome and a very hard worker. He was the kind of person you wanted/needed on your crew, someone you could trust and rely upon. This Laotian-American Berry Boy wanted to learn the art of technical theatre. Acting wasn’t his thing; he liked to use his hands to build the sets and light the stage, and he was very good at it.
Then came the dancing class requirement — we all had to take the basic dance classes — ballet, jazz and modern. So Pi put on some tights and showed up for work. Under the tutelage of his excellent and tough teachers a performer was discovered; this small, strong and fit young man was a natural. He could leap and soar and stop on a dime. Pi flowed like water and writhed like a hurricane. He had a natural athleticism, grace of form and masculine power that was innate and unstoppable. The pleasure of the dance filled his soul, winning him a scholarship to the Erick Hawkins Troupe in New York City and, as they say, a star was born.
I asked his long time friend, Stacey Simon, a New Iberia resident and ex-professional dancer at the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, how our Pi fared in the big city and she told me, ”It was as a big change for him, but it was what he was meant to do — it was his calling, and he went into it full force.”
From the professional stage of Erick Hawkins to Philobolus Troupe to the last big gig with Momix, our Pi danced his derriere off — not literally, as he had one of the nicest gluteus maximi I have ever seen. The last time I talked to Pi was on the phone, when he was established and comfy in NYC. I called my friend whom I had not seen or talked to since 1993, and it was like old times, just catching up, sharing stories of our adventures in the professional performing arts, me just back from Seattle and he the most successful member of our USL family.
Somewhere along his travels our Pi met a special lady, and they fell in love, got married and made a home in a small village in Italy. This is where his funeral was, and from what I heard, it was packed. A couple of hundred people made their way to the village that Pi and Sylvia settled in to say their goodbyes. His passing was noticed and covered by the local media, and his new family mourned his death in the Old World. The testaments to Pi on his Facebook page are truly magnificent in both tone and variety. This guy was loved massively and intensely; he affected so many around the world. The impact of his so very well lived and loved life is a testament to a real life fairy tale. Who among us has touched so many? Please head over to the Facebook page for Amphaymany Keohavong for a fuller picture of our sweet, smart-ass, bad-ass Pi. He made us all so proud.
If I could ask Pi one last question, I think it would be something like, “What do you think is next? How do you feel about it?” And he might say, “I hope it is as full of love and fun and interesting times as this life has been to me.”
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.