Can dance tell a story? For renowned dancer and choreographer Hengda Li, the answer is a definite yes.

In the soon to be staged “Rhythm of Dance – 2010”, Hengda Dance Academy and the American Asian Performing Arts Theater are delighted to present a showcase of ballet, Chinese classical and folk dance. This exhibition of creative works by the famous artist Hengda Li includes both intricate classical ballet specifically choreographed for, and performed by, dancers from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Beijing Dance Academy, as well as original works choreographed for Li’s students at the University of Washington and Hengda Dance Academy.

Can dance tell a story? For renowned dancer and choreographer Hengda Li, the answer is a definite yes.

In the soon to be staged “Rhythm of Dance – 2010”, Hengda Dance Academy and the American Asian Performing Arts Theater are delighted to present a showcase of ballet, Chinese classical and folk dance. This exhibition of creative works by the famous artist Hengda Li includes both intricate classical ballet specifically choreographed for, and performed by, dancers from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Beijing Dance Academy, as well as original works choreographed for Li’s students at the University of Washington and Hengda Dance Academy.

Li was a top dancer in China, winning accolades from critics and general audiences alike for his skilled artistry and interpretation of dance movements. After coming to America in the 1990s, he was a leading dancer with performing groups such as Pacific Northwest Ballet before founding his own dance academy.

Li’s compositions reflect strong traditional style with a modern interpretation, innovatively blending Asian and Western dance cultures. For example, in “Butterfly Lovers,” a well-known Chinese folklore made popular by modern dramas and an oft-performed symphony piece, Li retold the tragic love story of two Chinese lovers, who, while unable to be together due to social taboos and inequality of family status, were finally happily re-united as two butterflies after they both died for love.

“The Butterfly Lovers” will be performed by two professional dancers from the Hong Kong Dance Company, especially invited to be in Seattle for this event. Chen Jun, the male dancer, graduated from China’s top dance school, the Beijing Dance Academy, where Li himself originally graduated.

Chen has staged many major roles for the Hong Kong Dance Company, including programs that won top prizes in China’s art festivals and broadcasted on TV channels.

The female dancer in the Butterfly story, Su Shu, is also well-known in Hong Kong and regions of greater China. Su, a principal dancer for the Hong Kong group from 2001 to 2009, has played leading roles in over 20 dance pieces. Graceful with her body movements and well-versed with versatile dance styles, Su will be the perfect person to represent the Butterfly role, which is bound to move viewers to tears.

Another love story choreographed by Li, and now told via Ballet, is titled “Last Trace of the Setting Sun.” As the title suggests, the dance tells the sad story of the parting moments of two people in love, with the man helplessly seeing his love of life fighting for her last breath.

The Setting Sun dance will be performed by Le Yin and Mara Vinson, two leading dancers from Pacific Northwest Ballet, who many local theatre goers have seen from their local performances.

Le, also a graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy, attests to the success of that school as the breeding ground for top dancers. Le has perfected his methods of telling stories and connecting with audiences, rather than simply relying on lots of tricks and turns.

Le had been with Houston Ballet for five years before moving to Seattle several years ago, while Mara Vinson, the female dancer in the Setting Sun piece, is from Redondo Beach, California. She trained at Palos Verdes Ballet, the Kirov Academy, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She was made a principal in 2007.

Vinson danced in the BBC’s 1999 film version of PNB’s production of George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, filmed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. It will be a “cannot afford to miss” opportunity to see her presentation of Li’s choreography.

Other notable pieces from the “Rhythm of Dance – 2010” include “Terra Cotta Warriors,” a condensed representation of the famous relics found in the ancient capital city of Xi’an in China. “Rhythm of Calligraphy”, which combines dance moments with the strokes of Chinese calligraphy, finds similarities in the composition as well as the posture of dancers and calligraphers. While “Song of the Ocean” is a tribute to nature, and an ode to the powers of waves, as seen in the eyes of Li and represented impressively by local dancers who are students from the Hengda Dance Academy.

For more information, please see:
LI, HENGDA CREATIVE DANCE EXHIBITION
HDA ANNUAL PERFORMANCE
THE BAGLEY WRIGHT THEATRE
Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Tickets: $20/$30/$50 (Call for 10% discount for groups of 10+): 206.287.9998
Online tickets & more information: www.AAPAT.org or: info@hengda-dance.com

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