Rhythm of Dance tells love stories and success of local performers

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Can a dance tell a story? For renowned dancer and choreographer Hengda Li, the answer is a definite yes.

In “Rhythm of Dance 2010,” Hengda Dance Academy and the American Asian Performing Arts Theater will present a showcase of ballet, Chinese classical, and folk dancing.

This exhibition of creative works by famed artist Hengda Li includes both intricate classical ballet specifically choreographed for, and performed by, dancers from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Beijing Dance Academy, as well as original works choreographed for Li’s students at the University of Washington and Hengda Dance Academy.

Li was a top dancer in China, winning accolades from critics for his skilled artistry. After coming to America in the 1990s, he was a leading dancer with performing groups such as Pacific Northwest Ballet before founding his own dance academy.

Li’s compositions reflect strong traditional style with a modern interpretation, blending Asian and Western dance cultures.

In “Butterfly Lovers,” a well-known Chinese folklore story made popular by modern dramas and an oft-performed symphony piece, Li retold the tragic tale of two Chinese lovers, who, while unable to be together due to social taboos and unequal family status, were finally reunited as two butterflies after they both died for love.

“The Butterfly Lovers” will be performed by two professional dancers from the Hong Kong Dance Company, Chen Jun and Su Shu, who were invited to be in Seattle especially for this event.

Another love story choreographed by Li, and now told via Ballet, is titled “Last Trace of the Setting Sun.” As the title suggests, the dance tells the sad story of the parting moments of two people in love, with the man helplessly seeing the love of his life fighting for her last breath.

The Setting Sun dance will be performed by Le Yin and Mara Vinson, two leading dancers from Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Other notable pieces from the Rhythm of Dance 2010 include “Terra Cotta Warriors,” a condensed representation of the famous relics found in the ancient capital city of Xi’an in China, “Rhythm of Calligraphy,” which combines dance moments with the strokes of Chinese calligraphy, and “Song of the Ocean,” a tribute to nature and an ode to the powers of waves. ♦

For more information or to purchase tickets ($20–$50), visit www.AAPAT.org, call 206-287-9998, or e-mail info@hengda–dance.com.

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