Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center show shines
By Jodi Yim James
The Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center (TCCDC) brought Chinese culture to the stage in a beautiful and brilliant show on Jan. 18 and 19 at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul. More than 80 students ranging from age 3-61 performed in radiant costumes with graceful moves. They presented a repertoire of 21 very different and unique dance pieces,
each with exceptional choreography and colorful costuming. Traditional dance from 10 of the 56 distinct ethnic groups in China were represented. The artistic dance director of TCCDC Zhang Huanru says that each of their annual show presents new and different authentic cultural dances from the various ethnic cultures in China.
However, Zhang not only produces authentic folk dances from across the cultures of China, she also fuses these with modern styles and Western ballet. In all, the result is a stunning cultural experience of tradition and innovation, East and West, young and old. The young are introduced to traditional culture while the old are able to see the originality and freshness of Chinese youth. The performance spans the centuries of Chinese heritage, and celebrates the new China of today.
Since 2002, the TCCDC, as a nonprofit performing arts and educational organization, has promoted the knowledge and enjoyment of Chinese culture. Through dance and music, TCCDC preserves traditional Chinese performing arts and cultivates creativity that displays the fresh and diverse Chinese cultural heritage of today.
The 2014 show opened with a work called “Spring is Coming,” celebrating the Year of the Horse. This was followed by “China, the Beautiful,” celebrating the colors of China, red and yellow, and the unique landscape of China, including spectacular rivers and towering mountains. “A Wonderland with Jasmine Blooms” featured dancers accompanied by soprano Wang Danli singing a joyful melody celebrating China as paradise on earth. “Beats of Drums” was a Latin-inspired dance with an Eastern style drum, harmonizing East and West. “Luo Fu Xing” was a classic Chinese dance performed solo by talented dancer Cynthia Zheng.
“A Lady’s Life” also was a solo dance, in the style of the Peking Opera, and performed by Yan Hass. “The Beautiful Little Horses” was a cute performance of happy children performing as horses and antelopes playing in a pastoral field. “Spring Tempo” was performed with bright costumes and fairy-like moves, to the delight of the audience. “The Song of Prairies,” a solo dance by Sophie Gao and accompanied by Huang Ningsheng on the ancient dizi or flute. “Snake Goddess” was a charming performance with the magic moves and mystery of dancing snakes.
Tenors Zhou Shaohua and Cheng Liangsheng celebrated the motherland with their powerful voices. . There were many other performances that represented ethnic Dai dances and classic Chinese stories.
In addition, soprano Yang Yan who performs with the opera troupe from Jiangsu Province filled the auditorium with her melodic soprano voice. Chinese National acrobats Nan An and Jing Lui presented classical ballet and acrobatics with stunning skill and grace. “Wintersweet, Bamboo, Pine” was a dance routine that brought the audience from cold winter to blossoming spring. This was a fitting finale to a lovely and heart-warming exhibition of Chinese dance, music, song, and bright costume.
TCCDC board members Dong Xiaoming and Liu Baiqing, and TCCDC president Liu Xiaohe shared some interesting facts about their organization during intermission. They said most dancers are from a Chinese heritage but there are some dancers who are Caucasian and are interested in Chinese culture. The work of TCCDC is to make Chinese culture, both traditional and current, accessible to all in the Twin Cities. Students learn and progress through teaching, performance, and entering into competitive events. TCCDC has educated and inspired students and audiences for nearly a decade.
TCCDC offers a comprehensive curriculum rooted in Chinese traditional dance, but reaching into the future and the West with combinations of choreography and technique. TCCDC classes are run by professional instructors that are also performers. Unique in the Twin Cities community, TCCDC offers courses beyond traditional Chinese, with genres such as Latin, ballet and Chinese martial arts. And forFor those who are not dancing in class and on the stage, TCCDC annually present the cultural wealth of Chinese artistic tradition and innovation on the stage for all to enjoy