General Information

Saturday, March 9. 2002 at 7:30 PM

Sunday, March 10, 2002 at 2:00 PM

Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center


Ticket:  $ 15.00 - General

($10.00 - Student)

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Atlanta Chinese Dance Company


The all-new production of A Journey with the Phoenix is inspired by the well-known Chinese dance specialist Hwee-Eng Y. Lee, whose eclectic background ranges from Chinese dance to ballet to modern dance.  In October 2000, Ms. Lee led the company in the critically acclaimed performance of the Bamboo Forest of Yunnan, a work created by the partnership of Lee and Tang Yebi, a professor of the Yunnan Institute of Nationalities’ Dai dance department.  The enthusiastic sold–out crowd was made up not only of Chinese, but of an international audience.  This year, for the first time, Ms. Lee has created a production with a storyline.  The story resembles the enchanting Christmas classic, The Nutcracker.  This is the first attempt to create a dance production with the purpose of describing the Chinese heritage to the general public from a Chinese-American's point of view.

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Synopsis of A Journey with the Phoenix

Written by Kerry Lee

It is Chinese New Year, and Meihua, meaning "American Chinese," is celebrating the lunar holiday with her Chinese-American friends at the local Chinatown.  They are watching a group performing traditional Chinese opera, and the young girls struggle for a good view amidst a crowd.  Being as young as they are, they soon fall asleep.  Meihua starts to dream.  A phoenix, a mythical bird popular in the Chinese culture, flies beside her.  She says, "My name is Feng Huang ("phoenix" in Chinese), and I have come from the Orient to take you on a journey to the land of your ancestors."  Meihua is very amazed, and agrees to embark on the long journey. 

As they arrive in Beijing, Feng Huang and Meihua come across a group of young girls also celebrating Chinese New Year.  They greet her, and invite her to join in the traditional ribbon dance.  Afterward, Feng Huang asks Meihua, "Did you know that China has a very long civilized history?"  Meihua shakes her head.  "Well," Feng Huang replied, "China had many dynasties, like the Tang, Song, and Qing dynasties."  A group of goddesses fly from the sky.  They are from the Tang dynasty.  Each of them plays an intricately designed instrument known as the pipa.   There are other ladies, who dance with the elegant water sleeves.  Another group is preparing to go to war.  "This is only the Tang dynasty." Feng Huang says, "There are many other dynasties as well."  With that, she introduces the Song and Qing dynasties, with each having their specialties.  Then Meihua asked, "What happened to China after the downfall of the dynasties?"  Feng Huang then presents China in the post World War II era.  In that time period, there were many poor families who lived a miserable life.  The white-haired girl is an example.  She, though, was lucky.  She was eventually saved and reunited with her lover.  Meihua is touched by her courage, and presents the white-haired girl with a scarf to cover her hair. Originally from the Shanghai Ballet School (premiere performance  in 1965), White-haired Girl is a well-known Chinese contemporary ballet describing the arduous life of a young girl living in the World War II era.  This is the first Chinese ballet based on a real-life story in China. White-haired girl-Kerry Lee; Da Chun (the soldier)-Xiao Chen of the Atlanta Ballet.  

Feng Huang says, "Now that you have learned about Chinese history, I would like to introduce you to the present."  They fly to a small village.  A young Han girl carries a "biandan" to sell goods.  (A "biandan", a tool used to carry items, is a stick, with goods on either end.  The center is placed on the shoulders.)  Meihua stops to buy a fan and hat from her.  She then watches as the mountain girl cleverly outwits the monkeys who have raided her goods.  Then Feng Huang says, "Your homeland is a very diverse place.  There are fifty-six minority ethnic groups here."  Meihua asks, "What ethnic group am I from?"  "You are a descendant of the Han ethnic group, the majority ethnic group here."  Feng Huang introduces a few of the minorities:  the Ami in Taiwan, the Dai in Yunnan, the Wei Wu Er in Xin Jiang, the Li in Hainan, the Tibetans in Tibet, and the Mongols in Inner Mongolia.  Each group performs their authentic dance.  Meihua is intrigued by the fact that each group is so unique.  "It is time for you to return," Feng Huang says.  She takes Meihua back to Beijing, where all of the ethnic groups about which she has learned say farewell to her.  She is sad to leave them, but she is eager to return to her friends in America.

Meihua's friends find Meihua in the street and wake her up.  As she wakes up, she remembers her wonderful journey.

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Highlights of A Journey with the Phoenix

Watching Chinese Opera on the Street

This dance depicts a group of Han (majority ethnic group in China) Chinese-American children watching Chinese opera on the street in front of their local Chinatown.  They happily compete for a space in the audience while imitating the performers.  Being as young as they are, they inadvertently fall asleep in the process.  This dance comes from the Shanxi Province Children's Arts Troupe.


Feng Huang Arrives in Meihua's Dream

In Meihua's dream, Feng Huang, a phoenix, flies to see her from heaven.  Sovereign of all birds, the phoenix has the head of the golden pheasant, the beak of the parrot, the body of the mandarin duck, the wings of the roc, the feathers of the peacock and the legs of the crane; gloriously beautiful, it reigns over the feathered world.  Feng Huang takes Meihua to explore her heritage.

Dun Huang: Dance of the Pipa

Dun Huang music and dance developed during the Tang dynasty, one of the richest periods in Chinese Arts history. The classical Dun Huang Dance style shows Indian influence, which occurred during the introduction of Buddhism into China.  The images of the dancers on mural paintings from the past illustrated the unique Dun Huang style in Chinese dance history.  The pipa was a popular instrument during the time period. (See picture in the Synopsis: The picture was taken at the Atlanta's Woodruff Arts Center, where the ACDC performed for the 2002 Chinese New Year.)

Dance of the Manchurian Concubines

In this award-winning piece, two beautifully gowned Manchurian court ladies with elaborate Manchu-style headdresses and high platform shoes sway through the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) while beating the drum for the entertainment of the emperor.  (See picture in the Synopsis)

Chinese Contemporary Ballet-Excerpt from White-haired Girl

White-haired Girl is a well-known Chinese contemporary ballet describing the arduous life of a young girl living in the World War II era. Because her father could not pay off a debt on the eve of the Chinese New Year, the young girl was forced to become a slave for her landlord. She eventually ran away and hid in a cave, and everyone assumed she was dead. As a result of the lack of sunlight in the cave, her hair turned white. Meanwhile, her lover enlisted in the army. One day, he led his troops into her cave, believing that she was a ghost. Eventually, they recognize each other, and are happily reunited. (Image on the left: Xiao Chen of Atlanta Ballet works with Kerry Lee in a rehearsal.)


Dai Umbrella Dance

This piece was choreographed by Tang Yebi, the choreographer of Bamboo Forest of Yunnan.  This is the first time the ACDC presents the piece to the public.

Dai Dance: In Pursuit of the Fish

This award-winning piece is a Dai folk dance mimicking animal movements. It portrays a fisherman trying to chase a goldfish.  The fish is a significant animal to the Dai ethnic group, due to the importance of the river in their daily lives.



Tibet Dance: Lucky Drum Dance

Most Tibetans live in the western part of China in places like Tibet, Qing Hai, Yunnan, Gan Shu, and Si Chuan. Typically, their clothing includes a multi-colored apron and long sleeves. They sometimes only wear one sleeve because the weather can change rapidly in a single day.  In this dance, the Tibetan girls walk down from the Himalayan Mountains.



Mongolian Dance: Grassland Girls

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 is characterized by vigorous and energetic movements. Some of the movements are intended to evoke the image of horseback-riding.  (See also picture in the Synopsis).




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The Legend of Phoenix

Adapted from "Dragon and Phoenix" by Mr. Du Feibao,

The dragon and the phoenix are the principal motifs for decorative designs on the buildings, clothing and articles of daily use in the imperial palace. The Chinese phoenix exists only in legends and fairy tales. Sovereign of all birds, it has the head of the golden pheasant, the beak of the parrot, the body of the mandarin duck, the wings of the roc, the feathers of the peacock and the legs of the crane; gloriously beautiful, it reigns over the feathered world. An early design of the phoenix can be seen on a silk painting discovered in a tomb of the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.) near Changsha in Hunan Province.  The dragon and the phoenix often served in classical art and literature as metaphors for people of high virtue and rare talent or, in certain combinations, for matrimonial harmony or happy marriage. As an important part of folk art, lanterns, paper cuts and phoenix dances are still highly popular on festivals among the people of all localities. 

Early design of the Phoenix


Paper cut


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The Atlanta Chinese Dance Company


The Atlanta Chinese Dance Company has an eleven year history, in which they have never failed to serve both the Chinese and non-Chinese communities in Atlanta.  Founded by Ms. Lee, the company trains over seventy dancers, aged five to fifty, who are residents of the metro-Atlanta counties.  The majority of them have many years of performing experience with the company.  The company has appeared in the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.  They have also appeared in the Chinese variation of Atlanta Ballet’s holiday production of The Nutcracker.   In addition to the Bamboo Forest of Yunnan, which was held in the Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center, the company has presented performances in such theaters as the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts and the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts.  ACDC has also participated in Festival of Trees, Decatur Arts Festival, Georgia Tech International Festival, International Children Day organized by North Fulton County Arts Council, Chinese New Year festivities at the Chinese Cultural Center and other venues, City Hall Atrium, King Center, Underground Atlanta, Emory University, World of Coca-Cola Atlanta, Hunger Walk, Stone Mountain Park, Colony Square, Fernbank Science Center, Piedmont Park, Centennial Olympic Park, public schools and private schools, etc..  In addition to performing in Atlanta, the company has also made an appearance in Knoxville, Tennessee, where they presented a performance at the Performing Arts Center in Pellissippi State Technical Community College, and in a few elementary schools near Greenville, South Carolina.


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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 and various other sponsors.

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