Atlanta Chinese Dance Company went

In Search of The Imperial Palace

***click above for program descriptions and pictures***


Hwee-Eng Y. Lee, Artistic Director


Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 7:30 PM

Monday (Memorial Day), May 26, 2003 at 3:00 PM

 Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center

(Click here for Directions)

Ticket:  $ 15.00 - General Admission; $ 10.00 - Students


In March 2002, the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company took its audience on A Journey With The Phoenix across a broad spectrum of Chinese culture, both past and present.  In May 2003, we embarked on a search for the Forbidden City.  Not the remains that stand today behind Tiananmen Square, but the Forbidden City at the height of its lavish glory during the Qing Dynasty, when it was home to the Emperor and his family.  The simplicity of village life met the extravagance of the royal court as the ACDC took us In Search Of The Imperial Palace.


As our story begins, it is the evening of the Moon (or Mid-Autumn) Festival, and Xiao Lan Hua (“little girl” in Chinese) and her friends are gleefully celebrating the holiday which takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.  With lanterns in their hands, they watch the moon intently from their village in the Anhui province of China, imagining that the fairy tale character Chang E (pronounced “chang er”) and her little rabbit are there.  As the other children slowly lose interest and walk away, Xiao Lan Hua is mesmerized by the beauty of Chang E, and fails to realize that she has become separated from her friends.  Discovering that she is lost, Xiao Lan Hua begins to worry.

Luckily enough, an older girl named Da Lan Hua (“big girl” in Chinese) comes by.  Seeing that Xiao Lan Hua is upset, Da Lan Hua tries to cheer her up with her colorful fan and scarf.  Xiao Lan Hua is amused, but she still wants to find her friends.  She asks Da Lan Hua for help, but unfortunately Da Lan Hua has no idea as to of their whereabouts.  Xiao Lan Hua is disappointed, but she says, “That’s okay.  But, you know, I have always had one dream in my lifetime.”  Da Lan Hua, replies, “And what is that?  Maybe I can help you.”  Excited, Xiao Lan Hua answers, “I have always wanted to see the Forbidden City in Beijing and to meet the emperor.”  To her surprise, Da Lan Hua says, “I have always wondered about the palace too!  We shall look for it together.”    Neither Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua know the way, but they hope that their drive and determination will lead them to their dream.


Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua begin their trek, and they ask everyone they see how to get to Forbidden City.  Along the way, passing through many seasons, they encounter people of all ages and ethnicities in their daily lives.  Miraculously, their constant questioning leads them in the right direction.  A problem arises when they reach Huang He (or “Yellow River”, named for its murky color), an area known for its horrendous flooding.    Not intimidated by the worst of nature, Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua successfully ford Huang He alongside the people of the Yellow River Basin (represented by guest artist Tian Shuai of the Atlanta Ballet Company).  Through their struggles, Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua finally realize their dream and make it to the Forbidden City. 


In the palace of Forbidden City in Beijing, the emperor of the Qing (or Manchu) dynasty celebrates his birthday.  Many festivities are planned, including classical and folk dances from different parts of the country.  The evening starts with a procession of the Empress and twelve Manchurian concubines, followed by an impressive sword dance from Dun Huang and a beautiful Mongolian dance.


The Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua finally arrive at the palace.  Promising that they can provide entertainment for the Emperor, Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua are admitted to the most beautiful building that they have ever seen in their lives.  After enjoying a few dances with the emperor, Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua perform, giving the Emperor peach-shaped buns as a present (a customary birthday gift symbolizing longevity).  The Emperor is so impressed by their lovely performance that he invites them to stay with him at the palace.  Although this high honor is very rare, Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua both agree that there is no place like home.


Back home in the country, Xiao Lan Hua’s friends eagerly await her return.  As Da Lan Hua takes her to them, Xiao Lan Hua reminisces about her trek to the Forbidden City.  She tells her friends about her dream come true, but none of them believe her.  But Xiao Lan Hua is not worried, because all of you in the audience are witnesses. 


This production was created and choreographed by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee, President and Artistic Director of the ACDC.  Ms. Lee's formal dance training includes ballet, jazz, and modern, as well as traditional Chinese dance.  She founded the Company twelve years ago with the goal of serving not only Atlantans of Chinese descent, but the metropolitan area as a whole.  The Company has over seventy members, from age 5 to adult.  It has performed at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics; the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts; the Rialto Center for the Arts; the Festival of Trees; the Georgia Tech International Festival; the King Center; Underground Atlanta; Emory University; and at numerous Chinese New Year celebrations, and public and private schools.


This program is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly.  The Council is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Additional funding is provided by the Gwinnett Council for the Arts, the Woodruff Arts Center's "Celebrate Diversity Through The Arts", and various other sponsors.


For information, please contact

Atlanta Chinese Dance Company
at (770)449-9953


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