Beijing Dance Academy

REVIEW by Willard Manus

Lovers of the dance were recently able to celebrate Chinese New Year with a visit from the Beijing Dance Academy at the Ahmanson Theatre. The BDA was founded in 1987 and has established itself as the most prestigious dance academy in China. The dance style of the company is based on Chinese traditional classical and folk dance with contemporary influences.

The program consisted of six short dances which showed the lyric beauty and blend of athletics and aesthetics, strength and humor. Wang Shangfeng was particularly effective in his solo dance Infinite in which he expressed the theme of harmony between man and nature. Then came Lotus Flowers in June, where the dancers turned into blossoming lotus flowers and formed images of shimmering leaves. Choreographer Sun Ying incorporated dance forms found in archeological documents for the floating graceful Singing While Treading dance. The contemporary influence could be seen in Three-way Crossroads which, although wearing traditional costumes, the dancers expressed their ideas in what verged on Chinese rap.

The second half of the program was taken up with The Butterfly Lovers, China's answer to Romeo & Juliet. Exquisitely beautiful dancing by Zhu Yingtai and Shao Junting who, as star-crossed lovers, captured the ephemeral beauty of butterflies.

The company will also perform in San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle.