Feature: Chinese-American cultural heritage wows Los Angeles
by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Colors blazed across the stage of the plush Luckman Theater at California State University, Los Angeles, on Saturday as a dramatic night of original dance unfolded, inspired by Chinese traditional and ethnic folk dances presented by nearly 100 America-born Chinese teenagers.
In dazzling costumes of Chinese red, lime green, electric blue and more, Chinese-American students from all over the U.S. came together to celebrate their ancestral cultural heritage at the annual dance concert hosted by the Sino U.S. Performing Arts Organization.
None of them were professional dancers. They were students from a training program of the host organization, whose aim is to foster communication and collaboration between dance professionals in the U.S. and China.
Performing to a packed auditorium, the fresh-faced students took to the stage in a mixed program of traditional Han and ethnic minority dances, Peking Opera, and innovative modern interpretations, wowing the audience.
Susie Shu, CEO of the host organization, said she had no idea that the youngsters would perform so well . "They had (only) one month to rehearse. I was amazed at the quality of their performance in such a short time," she beamed proudly.
"Chinese dances are beautiful, full of meaning," she told Xinhua. "I thought it would be so nice to teach them to students here in America. Combine the Eastern and Western cultures in a new, unique, artistic way everyone can appreciate."
Seasoned professional dancers, many from the renowned Beijing Dance Academy, were also invited to perform at the event.
"Dance conveys the basic elements of human nature. Every person in the world experiences happiness, hardship, joy, and suffering. These feelings are the same for everyone," Gao Du, a professor at the academy and an advisor to the dance program, said.
The program concluded with a rousing dance drama, Yellow River, performed by two Chinese cultural dance and ballet schools, New Century Dance School of San Francisco and the Shin Dance Academy of Los Angeles.
It featured an energetic troop of sashed "farm women" who tilled the land and twirled their threshing baskets to woo a bountiful harvest and celebrate a hopeful future.
The musical accompaniment was an intriguing combination of traditional Chinese and Western classical blended with some more modern experimental elements.
"We hope these dance dramas will convey the message that life's journey is the same for all people," Gao said. "True art is a bridge that can help people understand each other better. That is the very nature of art, dance and culture."