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New Year celebrated with dance mix

(China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-01-26 11:05

Performers at Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company amaze viewers at Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts in New York on Jan 25. Lu Huqiuan / For China Daily

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company blends beauty of East, West on stage

One of the top Chinese-American-owned dance groups in the US staged a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year by combining Chinese traditional dances with Western styles.

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company performed its second Lunar New Year Celebration at the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts on Sunday. Founded in 1988, the group, whose members are ethnically diverse ranging from China to Italy, aims to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western culture, something they did gracefully in this show.

The performance started with a salute to Chinese Lunar New Year with Double Lions Welcoming Spring, a version of the popular Lion Dance in China with interaction between the lion character and the other dancers.

Next was an excerpt from Peach Flower Landscape,a dance drama portraying a peaceful agricultural community living in perfect harmony, signifying the coming Year of the Sheep in the Chinese zodiac. The sheep signifies quietness, gentleness and peace in Chinese culture.

"It has a beautiful scene at sunset, and dancers wear gold, just like peace flowers in the golden sunlight,"said Nai-Ni Chen, the dance company's founder and choreographer. "That's why I choose this program. It talks about a peaceful land without war.”

The dance drama was also typical in Chen's combination of Western and Oriental culture. The choreography was based on a story written by Tao Yuanming, a Chinese poet from the 4th century. Dancers used techniques from taichi to control their breathing and movement.

"Look at how dancers' wrist joints make different gestures and movements. That's purely Chinese," said Chen. "Western dancers are not as mellow as Chinese, they wouldn't move smaller joints in the body."

"Unbelievable," said audience member Diane Sears, as the 100-minute show alternated between Chinese tradition and Western contemporary.

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