By Amanda Mourning

The Year of the Rabbit began with an unforgettable evening of dance and music, courtesy of the Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center (TCCDC). On January 29th, TCCDC, under the Artistic Direction of the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Huanru Zhang, celebrated the Chinese New Year with a large audience at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul.

 By Amanda Mourning

TCCDC3_PeacockjpgThe Year of the Rabbit began with an unforgettable evening of dance and music, courtesy of the Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center (TCCDC). On January 29th, TCCDC, under the Artistic Direction of the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Huanru Zhang, celebrated the Chinese New Year with a large audience at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul.

The program highlighted an impressive array of colorful costumes, elaborate staging and a colorful backdrop. The show began with a dance entitled Splendid Flourishing Flower, which highlighted several generations of dancers at once. The lively music and joyful dancers engaged the audience from the moment the music began to play. The piece, which paints a vision of springtime, was a welcome reminder that the Minnesota winter will soon be over and springtime will bloom.

The dance selections highlighted the diverse skills of the many dancers who had come to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Several pieces involved whimsical movements and costumes, from bright, accentuated hats to towering peacock feathers. These lively numbers were punctuated by more dramatic moments, such as the Colors of Unity, in which young dancers Jimmy Ji and Cynthia Zheng moved together with purpose and precise movements.

One of the many high points of the evening was the dramatic and intricate dance entitled Rivalry. This piece, restaged by Huanru Zhang and Ningsheng Huang, interwove traditional Chinese dance with martial arts moves. The contrast of flowing costumes with the abrupt moves of the martial artists was electrifying and effective. A solo dancer bearing a sword added a note of stridency to this dance that set it apart as a particularly memorable performance.

The dance selection varied throughout the evening, drawing in jazz and modern dance through the performance by the Metro Dance Center of a riveting narrative dance entitled Bionic. Later in the show, TCCDC introduced a Latin dance, replete with vibrant red frills and sultry solo dancers who glided across the stage with poise and emotive grace.

In addition to dance performances, a number of singers were invited to perform alongside dancers. Professional singers, such as the tenor soloist, Lei Li and accomplished soprano, Qian Xu, were also joined by local talented singers and the Minghua Chorus, conducted by Lei Li. The combination of song and dance lent an enjoyable diversity to the performances over the course of the evening and heightened the energy throughout.

Huanru Zhang, former President of the Nanjing Shenmei Culture and Art Company in Nanjing, China, crafted a seamless and professional production with memorable costumes and performances. The event- aptly entitled the Enchantment of Dance- was a truly enchanting celebration of the Chinese New Year. All who were in attendance will not soon forget the energetic, vibrant performances.

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CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

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