Atlanta Chinese Dance Company


In Search of the Imperial Palace

***click above for program synopsis***



May 25, 2003 at 7:30 PM

May 26, 2003 at 3:00 PM


Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center

Duluth, Georgia

Staged and Directed by:

Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

Guest Artist:

Tian Shuai, Atlanta Ballet

Main Characters:

Da Lan Hua

Kerry Lee

Xiao Lan Hua

Catherine Chu, Kateri Goodwin, Allison Kwan,

Anna Meyer, Amy Sanders, Christie Sui


The traditional Lantern Festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar (and also on the fifteenth day on the first month).  On this day, the Chinese enjoy the full moon and the display of lanterns.  The full moon is celebrated in the Moon (or mid-Autumn) Festival by the reunion of as many family members as possible.  Moon cakes are a festival treat.  In this dance, the lanterns are used to create different patterns.


Choreography: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

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According to a Chinese fairy tale, a fairy named Chang E (pronounced “chang er”) floated to the moon after drinking an elixir of immortality.  Chang E’s pet, a jade rabbit, drank the last drop of the elixir and floated to the moon as well.  Many Chinese children imagine that they can see a fairy and a rabbit in the moon.  People have historically paid their respects to Chang E and her rabbit during the Moon Festival. 

Choreography: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

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After Xiao Lan Hua discovers that she is lost, Da Lan Hua tries to cheer her up with a fan and scarf, two props commonly used in Chinese dance.  This dance incorporates techniques from various styles of fan dance, including Anhui and  Yunnan.  In Anhui fan dance, the use of percussion instruments is very important, as reflected by the “ting chang” sounds sang by Xiao Lan Hua.  Originally choreographed for a girl and her doll, this dance is a Tao Li Cup award-winning piece.

Choreography: Beijing Dance Academy

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The harvest typically takes place in autumn.  Children of the majority Han ethnic group work happily on the farm, harvesting their well-earned crops.  In this dance, the harvest is depicted through the dancers’ use of hats and scarves.  The scarves represent the crops, as well as the tool “biandan” used for carrying crops.  The hats also have a double meaning.

Choreography: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

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This contemporary Chinese dance was choreographed based on the Jiao Zhou folk dance fan techniques of the Shandong province in northeast China.  The beauty of spring is symbolized through the grace of the young Chinese ladies and the colorful fans that they carry.

Staged by: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee (after a Tao Li Cup award-winning piece)

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The Dai minority ethnic group lives mostly in Yunnan province, located in southwest China.  Since the Dai live in close proximity to Myanmar (Burma), the style of Dai dance is similar to the Burmese.  Bouncy knees and angular arms and fingers are characteristic of Dai dance.  This dance, a contemporary interpretation, is a Tao Li Cup award-winning piece.

Choreography: Central Institute of Nationalities

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In this dance, a young Tibetan girl chases a group of ducks.  The ducks happily jump into the water and eat the food given to them by the girl.  At the end of the dance, the girl leaves to go to school. 

Choreography: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

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This Han dance has its origins in the dance drama “Shanghai Dagger Society.”  It adopts techniques from Chinese opera and traditional wushu (martial arts) to depict the Opium War (1839-42 and 1856-60) in China, which took place during the period of Tai Ping Tian Guo (founded by rebel Hong Xiu Quan in the late Qing dynasty to liberate Chinese people from imperial oppression.) In this dance, a group of patriotic young women, determined to fight for their country, refine their bow skills.

Choreography: Shanghai Song and Dance Troupe (adapted by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee)

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In this piece, a young girl flies her kite in spring time. The dancers use two fans to create the shape of the kite.  At times, they represent the string of the kite, and at other times, they depict the kite itself.   

Choreography after Xu Chiu Ping by: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

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This Han dance incorporates “Yang Ge” techniques, which originated with farmers in northeast China.    In this piece, the married women of the Yellow River Basin gossip happily while working hard at various tasks, including washing clothes, sewing, farm labor, and carrying the “biandan.”

Choreography: Shanxi Province Song and Dance Troupe

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Drums are a very popular prop in Chinese dance.  In this piece, from the Shou-La-Shou Arts Troupe, the children of the Yellow River Basin hit two drums, one on the chest, and the other on top of their head, in intricate patterns.

Choreography: Huang Ying and Wang Rui Fen


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The Yellow River, or “Huang He” in Chinese, is named as after its murky color, which is caused by the loess deposits in the river.  The Yellow River, sometimes called “China’s Sorrow,” is known for its rampant floods; the people of the Yellow River Basin, represented by the male dancer, are often forced combat the horrible flood-related conditions.  Set to the well-known Yellow River Piano Concerto, this work of modern Chinese dance was originally choreographed for Beijing Dance Academy without the use of any props.  


Choreography:  Zhang Yujun and Shen Peiyi (adapted by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee)

Guest Artist: Tian Shuai, Atlanta Ballet (pictured above right)

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The Qing (or Manchu) dynasty was the last dynasty of China’s dynastic cycle.  The Manchu people, who ruled the Qing dynasty, had very elegant costumes, which have had a great influence on Chinese costume history.  Their distinctive style includes of headdresses and platform shoes.


Choreography: Yu Hong

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Sword technique has gradually developed into a form of dance.  Sword dance was already quite advanced in the Tang dynasty, and has developed even further since.  Movements from the sword dance are forceful yet elegant.  In this particular piece, from the Dun Huang area, there is a long tassel attached to the sword, which increases the difficulty of the technique as well as the beauty of the movements.

Choreography: Shaanxi Province Classical Music and Dance Troupe

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Mongolians live on the vast prairie in the northern part of China.  Many of the people live as shepherds.  Their traditional culture has a close relationship with sheep, horses, and eagles.  The dance uses cups, a typical prop of traditional Mongolian dance.  Although many Mongolian dances evoke the image of life on the prairie, this classical dance is designed to be performed in a palace.

Choreography: Inner Mongolia Song and Dance Troupe

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Most Tibetans live in the western part of China in the Tibet, Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces.  Typically, their clothing includes a multi-colored apron and long sleeves.  Sometimes, they only wear one sleeve, because the weather often changes rapidly in a single day. 


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This classical Chinese dance is choreographed to a famous tune.  It depicts a group of young ladies dancing under the moonlight with feather fans which are often used to symbolize the moon.


Choreography: Margaret Yuen

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Dun Huang music and dance developed during the Tang dynasty, one of the richest periods in Chinese art history.  The classical Dun Huang dance style was influenced by the Indians during the introduction of Buddhism into China.  The images of the dancers on ancient mural paintings in the past illustrated the unique Dun Huang style in Chinese dance history.  The pipa was a popular instrument during the time period.  In this dance, the style of “fantanpipa” (literally “playing the pipa backwards”) is depicted throughout.

Choreography: Gansu Song and Dance Troupe

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Xinjiang, located in the northwestern part of China, is the home of the Wei Wu Er ethnic group, who love music and dance.  The interesting neck and wrist movements are the main characteristics of this style. 

Choreography: Xinjiang Cultural Bureau

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This dance was inspired by the archaeologists who discovered a tomb that dates back to the Warring States period, some 2,400 years ago.  The palace banquet music is based on the folk melodies of Hubei.  It shows the grand entertainment in the palace with flowing, graceful long sleeves.


Choreography: Hubei Province Song and Dance Troupe

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Chinese contemporary ballet is a new style that has developed in the past forty years.  It incorporates classical ballet technique into Chinese dance style.  Examples of Chinese contemporary ballets in China include the White-haired Girl, Red Detachment of Women, and Red Lanterns Hang High.   This piece, choreographed to music from Red Detachment of Women, uses red embroidered balls.  Traditionally, red is the symbol of happiness.  Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua’s gift for the emperor includes peach-shaped buns, a customary birthday gift that symbolizes longevity. 


Choreography: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee and Kerry Lee


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The emperor asks Da Lan Hua and Xiao Lan Hua to stay, but they decide that "there's no place like home.”  All of the people of the Imperial Palace gather to say farewell to the girls.



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Xiao Lan Hua's Return
Da Lan Hua takes Xiao Lan Hua back to her hometown, where Xiao Lan Hua’s friends are very excited to see her.  Xiao Lan Hua tells her friends about her adventures, but they do not believe her.


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 Final Bow

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