Staged and Directed by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee

Announcers: Michael Wang (English), Lily (Chinese)


In Chinese mythology, there are four divine rulers of the sea, known as the four Dragon Kings. The Dragon King of the East, Ao Guang, is said to rule the largest territory. Ao Guang lives in a crystal palace. In addition to ruling over aquatic life, he also has the power to manipulate clouds and rain. He is greatly feared and worshipped, because he floods cities when enraged. The choreographer for this dance utilizes two types of silk fans, popular props in traditional Chinese dance, to characterize the Dragon King and surrounding ocean waves.

Choreographer: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee
Ocean Waves: Mei-Jing Bernard, Laura Brockmann, Emma Gough, Monica Ho, Lacey Krakowiak, Shannon Leeman, Tiffanie Leeman, Anna Marianchuk, Alice Y. McCurley, Jialin Shan
Dragon King of the East, Ao Guang: Andrew Ellis (head), Tia Bi, June WeiChun Brenner, Carolyn Butler, Freda Chen, Katherine Do, Evonne Iau, Genevieve Xiao Fei MacDonald, Tiffany H. Morgan, Nia Nguyen, Emily Yuan Reittinger, Anna Rappaport, Emily Ye


Nezha is a child warrior deity in Chinese mythology. During the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC), Nezha’s mother gives birth to a ball of flesh after being pregnant with him for three years and six months. Li Jing, his father, attacks the ball with a sword, fearing that it is a demon. The ball splits open, and Nezha jumps out as a boy who could immediately speak and walk. Shortly thereafter, he is accepted by the immortal Taiyi Zhenren as a disciple. This dance, a Tao Li Bei Dance Competition award-winning choreography, uses classical Chinese dance techniques to depict Nezha’s child-like behavior and heroic spirit.

Choreographer: Beijing Dance Academy Classical Dance Department
Nezha: Janie Wu (Saturday), Madeleine Morgan Lan Harris (Sunday)


A group of children are harvesting rice with sieves. Suddenly, the third son of the Dragon King comes along and steals a child for his father to eat. This piece is a Chinese folk dance choreographed to the lyrics of a song that tells of how each grain of rice requires hard work under the hot blazing sun.

Choreographer: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee after Yang Hua
Children: Dinna Kanita Dewi, Cecilia Guterman, Alice Howting, Emma Mchale, Iris X. McKenney, Victoria Ordonez, Talia Ossip, Joline Speck, Kara Thurston, Ashley Wang, Annie Wu


A mother mourns the loss of her daughter after she is eaten by the Dragon King. This dance features long, flowing water sleeves of silk, a prop commonly used in classical Chinese dance. White is the traditional color for mourning in Chinese culture.

Choreographer: Beijing Dance Academy Classical Dance Department
Mother: Queena Kou


Nezha is enraged upon hearing that the Dragon King has been sending his third son, Prince Ao Bing, to steal children for him to eat. He uses his red ribbon, a weapon given to him by Taiyi Zhenren along with a golden hoop, to strangle Ao Bing to death.

Choreographer: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee
Nezha: Kateri Goodwin
Prince Ao Bing: Andrew Ellis


The Dragon King seeks revenge after the death of his third son. He pays a visit to Nezha’s father, Li Jing, and threatens to kill his family and flood his entire town unless he kills Nezha. Li Jing raises his sword to kill Nezha, but he cannot bear to kill his own son. Nezha is moved by his father’s love and commits suicide to spare his father this excruciating task, declaring that he alone takes responsibility for his own actions. The Dragon King spares Nezha’s family and the flooding stops, but he demands that families sacrifice their young children to honor the death of his third son.

Choreographer: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee and Kerry Lee
Nezha: Kerry Lee (Guest Artist)


After Nezha’s death, Taiyi Zhenren uses lotus blossoms to reconstruct a body for his soul to inhabit. This classical Chinese dance is an excerpt from the dance drama “Along the Silk Road,” set in the Dunhuang province. The lotus represents purity and is highly associated with Buddhism.

Choreographer: Hwee-Eng Y. Lee after Gansu Song and Dance Troupe’s “Along the Silk Road”
Lotus Blossoms: Sophie Archer, Emily Backer, Marjorie Peace Huan Chamberlain, Kateri Goodwin, Madeleine
Morgan Lan Harris, Janie Wu, Kate Zahniser-Word


Taiyi Zhenren presents Nezha with a new weapon, a long spear. Nezha enters the Dragon King’s crystal palace and uses the long spear to defeat the Dragon King. This dance is choreographed based traditional Beijing opera techniques.

Choreographer: Song Xiao Jun
Nezha: Song Xiao Jun (Guest Artist)


All the townspeople gather together to celebrate Nezha’s victory and the end of sacrificial offerings to the Dragon King. Since then, parents have worshipped Nezha as the guardian of their offspring, and many monasteries in China have been dedicated to him. Drums and red ribbons are popular props in Chinese folk dance and are commonly performed during celebrations. Traditionally, red is a symbol of happiness in Chinese culture. The ribbons are made of silk, which was invented by the Chinese over 4,000 years ago.

Choreographer: Huang Ying and Wang Rui Fen (Drum Dance), Hwee-Eng Y. Lee (Red Ribbon Dance)
Drum Dancers: Yi-Shan Bernard, Mia I-Wah Chan, Sarah Anne Marie Goodwin, Camille Gough, Hilary Hsieh, Jade Leslie, Mia Mercaldo, Isabella Pu, Yannie Tan, Jessie Wong, Jessica Ye
Long Ribbon Dancers: Sophie Archer, Emily Backer, Mei-Jing Bernard, Marjorie Peace Huan Chamberlain, Kateri Goodwin, Madeleine Morgan Lan Harris, Janie Wu, Kate Zahniser-Word
Short Ribbon Dancers: Dinna Kanita Dewi, Cecilia Guterman, Alice Howting, Emma Mchale, Iris X. McKenney, Victoria Ordonez, Talia Ossip, Joline Speck, Kara Thurston, Ashley Wang, Annie Wu

Intermission – 15 Minutes

Chinese folk culture, which includes fifty-six ethnic groups, is colorful and diverse. Each ethnic group has its own distinct culture, language, and dance style. The Han people are the ethnic majority; some of the fifty-five ethnic minorities include the Yi, Dai, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Mongol.


The Dai people, who have a population of about 1.2 million, live primarily in Xishuangbanna in the southern part of the Yunnan province in southwest China. They love singing and dancing, accompanied by musical instruments such as the hulusi. Due to the tropical climate, the Dai people often wear hats in their daily lives. Such hats have become an important prop in Dai folk dance. Influenced by the Burmese, who live in close proximity to the Dai people, characteristics of Dai dance include angular arms and bouncy knees.

Choreographer: Yang Kejia and Wang Xiaodong of Yunnan Song and Dance Ensemble
Hulusi Dancers: Emily Pau, Emily Sun, Nicole Tocci, Alice Yee, Amy Yee
Hat Dancers: Nancy Chen, Ludmilla Harker, Margery Hwang, Jessica Kouch, Lily, Agate Lip, Tissa Sajoto, Shu Wu, Shu-Fen Yang, Shu-Min Yen


The Yi ethnic minority, China’s seventh largest ethnic minority, reside mostly in southwest China in provinces such as Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guangxi. Their ancestors can be traced back to the Qiang people in northwest China. They have since migrated south and joined the local southwest aborigines to form the Yi ethnic group as it is known today. Due to the vastness of the regions they inhabit, Yi dress and adornment varies greatly and has over 400 different styles. One example for women is laced or embroidered jackets and pleated long skirts hemmed with colorful multi-layer laces. Group dance is popular among the Yi, and it is typically accompanied by reed instruments such as the lusheng. This piece, entitled “ka ji ka” in the Yi language, literally means “let’s sing and dance.”

Choreographer: Li Jian
Lusheng Dancer: Andrew Ellis
Female Dancers: Tia Bi, June WeiChun Brenner, Carolyn Butler, Freda Chen, Katherine Do, Genevieve Xiao Fei MacDonald, Nia Nguyen, Emily Yuan Reittinger, Anna Rappaport, Emily Ye


“Yangge” (or “rice sprout song”) is a Han folk dance that originated from rice planting and farming, and is popular throughout China’s countryside. There are different styles of yangge according to areas or its form, such as Jiaozhou yangge (from the Shandong province on the eastern coast of China), hua gu (flower drum), hua deng (flower lantern), and cai cha (tea-leaf picking). They all express feelings of happiness. In some villages, yangge teams go door to door to each family’s yard to dance during the first fifteen days of the Lunar New Year; families, in return, give some gifts to the team. The most typical prop in Jiaozhou yangge is the silk fan. This award-winning choreography from the National Dance Competition in China utilizes this traditional prop in an untraditional way, connecting the dancers together and allowing them to intertwine themselves in unusual, unpredictable formations.

Choreographer: Beijing Dance Academy Choreography Department
Dancers: Sophie Archer, Emily Backer, Kate Zahniser-Word


With no laundry machines, village women spend a lot of time washing clothes by hand. From dawn to dusk, the shores of lakes and rivers are lined with women scrubbing, ringing, and rinsing clothes for their families. Children are often called to help out. In this Han folk dance, a group of young girls in the mountains wash clothes by the river. They play together as they work, looking out affectionately for free roaming sheep.

Choreographer: Huang Man Di
Dancers: Mia Mercaldo (lead-Saturday), Sarah Anne Marie Goodwin (lead-Sunday), Yi-Shan Bernard, Mia I-Wah Chan, Camille Gough, Hilary Hsieh, Jade Leslie, Isabella Pu, Yannie Tan, Jessie Wong, Jessica Ye


Mongols, who are the eighth largest ethnic minority in China, live a nomadic lifestyle on the vast grasslands of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Inner Mongolia is home to wild horses, which has been an integral part of their existence for thousands of years—the fermented mare’s milk as a primary food staple, to transportation, and to the races that are central to their culture and religious festivals. Hence, some movements in Mongolian dance are inspired by horseback riding. Their dance style is also influenced by their easy-going and bold character. Mongolian chopsticks dances are usually performed as entertainment during celebratory banquets. By using the chopsticks to hit their arms, hands, shoulders, back, waist, and legs, they create interesting body percussion phrases. As their passion escalates the rhythm of the dance increases, culminating in a climactic, fast-paced ending.

Choreographer: Staged by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee
Dancers: Nancy Chen, Catherine Chu, Debbie Ellis, Ludmilla Harker, Margery Hwang, Jessica Kouch, Allison Kwan, Lily, Agate Lip, Tiffany Liu, Lindsey Lue, Tissa Sajoto, Tanya Su, Georgia Tse, Shu Wu, Shu-Fen Yang, Alice Yee, Amy Yee, Shu-Min Yen, Penelope Young


This Tao Li Bei Dance Competition award-winning piece, choreographed in the Han folk dance style of Jiaozhou yangge, depicts a girl who is coming of age, dreaming of a bright future ahead of her. Utilizing the four most representative characteristics of Jiaozhou yangge, “zhan” (roll over), “ning” (wring), “zhuan” (turn), and “ren” (tenacious), the piece demonstrates the elegant and reserved nature of the typical Han Chinese young lady. The choreographer and composer combine traditional Jiaozhou yangge techniques with modern influences, integrating the use of a bench and piano music with the traditional silk fan and Jiaozhou folk tune.

Choreographer: Shanghai Theatre Academy Affiliated Dance School
Dancer: Kerry Lee (Guest Artist)


The Uyghur people, the fifth largest ethnic minority in China, live primarily in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in northwest China. Because of their close proximity to the Middle East, most Uyghurs are followers of Islam. Xinjiang is renowned for its fruit and produce, such as grapes and melons. For this reason, Uyghur dance often includes movements inspired by young ladies picking grapes. Intricate neck and wrist movements are distinct characteristics of their dance style. This piece was named after Tian Shan (“celestial mountains”), a mountain range in central Asia that passes through Xinjiang.

Choreographer: Tian Pei Pei
Dancers: Justina Ho, Queena Kou, Angela Liu, Emily Pau, Iyabo Shabazz, Melissa Ting, Nicole Tocci, Nora Yunfan Zhang


To the Dai people, the “holy bird” peacock is a symbol of happiness and auspiciousness. Hence, the peacock dance has become the most famous traditional folk dance of the Dai people. It was said that Zhaomali Jieshu, the head of the Dai minority over one thousand years ago, learned dance by imitating the elegant gestures of the peacock, such as drinking water, shaking and sunning its wings, and flying freely in the sky. Originally performed by unskilled male dancers at festivals, the peacock dance has since been widely interpreted by choreographers throughout Chinese dance history. The first version to break out of the tradition was a female group dance that incorporated ballet with traditional Dai dance movements. Perhaps the most well-known version is the “Spirit of the Peacock,” a female solo created and performed by Yang Liping of the Bai ethnic minority. “The Peacocks are Flying Towards Us” is a Tao Li Bei Dance Competition award-winning Dai dance choreography.

Choreographer: Beijing Dance Academy Folk Dance Department
Dancers: Catherine Chu, Allison Kwan, Tanya Su


The Tibetan minority, the tenth largest ethnic group in China, live primarily in the Tibetan Plateau (“qing zang gao yuan”) north of the Himalayas, which is sometimes called “the roof of the world.” Dancing is an integral aspect of Tibetan culture. There is a saying in Tibet that is “Tibetans who can walk can dance.” They dance together at festivals, gatherings, weddings, and in their spare time. Tibetan dance is most well-known for its long sleeve-swinging and rhythmic foot stomps. Influenced by their lifestyle around the Himalayas, this piece depicts the beauty and savageness of a mountain dance.

Choreographer: Xi’an City Arts School
Dancers: Sophie Archer, Emily Backer, Mei-Jing Bernard, Laura Brockmann, Marjorie Peace Huan Chamberlain, Kateri Goodwin, Emma Gough, Madeleine Morgan Lan Harris, Monica Ho, Lacey Krakowiak, Shannon Leeman, Tiffanie Leeman, Anna Marianchuk, Alice Y. McCurley, Janie Wu, Kate Zahniser-Word


The Dai people depend on the river for bathing and washing their clothes. This leads to their passion for fish. It was said that the fish dance was created by the Dai people when they first discovered fish and learned fishing. The fish dance is softer, more refined, more agile, and livelier than other Dai folk dances. It mainly uses a natural and delicate flow of undulating steps, steady short, quick steps on demi-point with bent knees, and small jumps to express a fish playing merrily in the water or swimming in torrents. The most typical hand gesture in the fish dance is one hand on top of the other with the thumbs outstretched. This Tao Li Bei Dance Competition award-winning choreography combines influences from pop culture among China’s younger generation with traditional Dai folk dance and music.

Choreographer: Shanghai Theatre Academy Affiliated Dance School
Dancer: Kerry Lee (Guest Artist)


“Hua gu deng” is a type of Han Chinese folk dance and music that originated from the Huaihe River in the Anhui province of China. For the Anhui people, it is the most widespread, artistically developed art form traditionally performed in public squares. On the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year, the first full moon of the year, farmers all around the Huaihe River get together to play with lanterns (“deng”) in celebration of a year of hard work. They are moved by the passionate drum (“gu”) performances by local musicians. This tradition under the moonlight has been passed down for generations and generations. Today, “hua gu deng” rarely involves lanterns or drums. The most typical props in “hua gu deng” are silk fans and handkerchiefs. This piece is an award-winning choreography from the Lotus Dance Competition in China.

Choreographer: Jiang Lou
Dancers: Tanya Su and Iyabo Shabazz (leads), Irene Chien, Catherine Chu, Justina Ho, Kateri Goodwin, Queena Kou, Jessica Kouch, Allison Kwan, Angela Liu, Tiffany Liu, Lindsey Lue, Emily Pau, Ji Yun (Emily) Sun, Melissa Ting, Nicole Tocci, Georgia Tse, Holly Wang, Alice Yee, Amy Yee, Penelope Young, Nora Yunfan Zhang



This program is supported in part by:

Pictured above (from left to right):
Janie Wu in "Nezha" - Photo by Brenda Chan
Song Xiao Jun and Kate Zahniser-Word in "Lotus Blossoms" - Photo by
Andrew Ellis and ACDC in "The Dragon King Under the Sea" - Photo by Brenda Chan
Kerry Lee in "Dai Dance: Little Fish" - Photo by Brenda Chan



Introduction .|. About ACDC .|. Past Performances
Most Recent Performance .|. Upcoming  Performance .|. Chinese Dance History
Chinese Dance Classes

Created by the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company
Copyright reserved