A New Tradition in the Making: Multicultural DanceFest 2017

03.12.2017

Enjoy the dance descriptions, some historical context, and the photos.

Loving of Waterlily 


A solo presented by Little Mulan Dance Troupe of the Philadelphia Great Wall Chinese School. Choreographed by Artistic Director Lanwei Ji

 

Isha Jiang performs with both Little Mulan Dance Troupe and International Ballet Theater. Her solo piece Loving of Waterlily is a contemporary choreography inspired by some of the traditional Chinese dance movements. The Loving of Waterlily uses the anthropomorphic approach to express the admiration of a Sacred Lotus flower gracefully emerging above the ripples of water. The choreography adapts exquisite dance poses to smooth, melodious music. A piece too beautiful to forget.

 

Kathak Tarana


A group dance performed by Rita Dance Academy. Choreographed by Artistic Director Rita Sharma

 

Kathak is a major Hindustani classical dance form, traceable to 400 BC and even mentioned in the famous ancient Hindu text Mahabharata. Kathak's origins are traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. Wandering Kathakars communicated stories from the great epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs and music in a manner similar to early Greek theatre. According to some dance historians, the Indian Kathak and the Spanish Flamenco dance share many visual, rhythmic and kinesthetic similarities. Tarana is a type of Hindustani classical vocal music composition in which words/syllables based on Persian and Arabic phenomes are used in a medium- or fast-paced rendition. It was invented by Great Amir Khusro. Some of the syllables used are from musical instruments, like Sitar or Tabla. Usually the dance consists of three parts: Tihais, Gats, and Tukdas.

 

QiSaibanu

A group dance performed by Huaxia Chinese School at Great Valley and directed by Mo Liu

 
This Chinese folk dance portrays a group of Mongolian girls on the prairie. The dancers are treating their guests with warm greetings and traditional dishes.

Gopak

A solo piece presented by International Ballet Theater. Staged by Artistic Director Alexander "Sasha" Boitsov

 

Joe Stephens is always popular in Gopak! Accompanied by violins, bagpipes, cimbalom and a singer (kobzár) Ukrainian men performed squats and improvised acrobatics in the air, all to prove their manliness and heroism. This style of movement is what gave this dance the name Gopak (or Hopak): Ukrainian verb “hopaty” means to jump. The acrobatic aspect of Gopak has been amped up throughout the centuries. Modern male soloists execute a complex choreography of high leaps, turns, and split jumps as the climax of the performance. Gopak has come to be known as a continuous presentation of energy and celebration.

Mallari 

A group dance performed by Nardhana Academy of Dance. Choreography by Artistic Director Ramaa Ramesh

 

Mallari is a traditional South Indian dance originally performed as a part of the Temple ritual celebrating the procession of the residing Deity. With a choreography based on a seven beat structure this dance is performed in three different speeds.

A Happy Dance

A group dance performed by the youngest members of International Ballet Theater. Choreography by Gennadiy Potapovich

 

The Happy Dance is a stylized Russian folk/character dance on pointe performed by an ensemble of twelve teenagers and one precocious little girl who tries bossing them around. It is a satirical piece that translates the typical Russian slapstick humor into a sequence of fun, over-exaggerated movements.

Sound of the Sea 

An ensemble piece performed by Melody Dance Group of Philadelphia. Choreographed by Grace Gao

 

Melody Dance Group performing the award-winning piece Sound of the Sea. Traditional Chinese silk dancing fans are an integral part of the choreography. The long flowing pieces of silk move in the air when expertly undulated by the dancers creating an eye-catching spectacle of movement reminiscent of the sea. The fan dance is believed to have begun during the Han dynasty. This dates it to around 200 AD. It was also during the Han dynasty that the first effort was made to collect and preserve the country's folk dances.

ACT II

Playful Maidens 

A group dance performed by Little Mulan Dance Troupe of the Philadelphia Great Wall Chinese School of Dance. Choreographed by Artistic Director Lanwei Ji.

 

Playful Maidens is a classical Chinese dance. The body rhyme of traditional Chinese opera is paired with lively, agile moves like skillful swinging of plume. Beautiful poses and movements are enhances by bright, colorful costumes. The dance creates a beautiful image of young playful maidens.

 

Nagada 

Performed by Rita Dance Academy. Choreographed by Artistic Director Rita Sharma

 

Nagada Sang Dhol is a Garba/folk dance from the 2013 hit Bollywood film Ram-Leela. Garba is a Gujarati (Gujarat is a state in North-West India) folk dance celebrated at Navratri, a Hindu Fall Festival. The celebrations go on for nine nights. Traditionally, the dance is performed around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a "womb lamp." The lantern represents life and the fetus in the womb in particular. The dancers thus honor Goddess Durga, the feminine form of divinity, and the feminine energy that creates life. Garba is performed in a circle as a symbol of the Hindu view of time as being cyclical. As the cycle of time revolves from birth to life to death and again to rebirth, the only thing that is constant is the feminine divinity. The divine is the only thing that remains unchanged in a constantly changing universe. During a Garba dance, people of different background and skills join and form concentric circles. The circles can grow or shrink, reaching sizes of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, dancing and clapping in circular moves, in their traditional costumes, at the same time.
 

Flamenco [Stylized Paso Doble] 

A group dance performed by International Ballet Theater. Choreography by Odysseus Gorman and Vladimir Surkin

 

The choreography of this Flamenco piece performed by IBT to much acclaim represents a stylized Paso Doble based on various folkloric traditions of Spanish Andalusia. The soloists Joe Stephens and Sandy Zeng perform a dramatic, passionate, fast-paced character pas de deux somewhat mimicking the movements of a toreador and a bull. The couple is accompanied by six fiery female character dancers who pace and stomp with much attitude while skillfully moving their long, flowing skirts that are designed to symbolize Spanish bullfighters' capes. This stylized choreography also incorporates traditional Flamenco's hand-clapping (palmas) and finger-snapping (pitos).
 

Shanghai Times

An ensemble piece performed by Melody Dance Group of Philadelphia. Choreographed by Artistic Director Grace Gao

 
The Shanghai Times choreography is inspired by stylish, body-hugging dresses for women known as cheongsams or qipao (chipao). Qipao is the Chinese equivalent of a Western woman's little black dress. Qipao was first designed in 1920s Shanghai and became increasingly popular in the 1960s Hong Kong. Choreographed like a stylized fashion show from the streets of Shanghai this elegant, nostalgic piece is reminiscent of period movie sequences by Ang Lee and Wong Kar-wai.
 

Rain


A character pas de deux performed by members of International Ballet Theater. Choreography by Artistic Director Emeritus Vladimir Shoumeikin

 

Sandy Zeng and Joe Stephens excel in this spirited duet between a young man and a young woman caught in a little flirtation in the rain. The piece is choreographed by a famous 1950s, 60s, and 70s Ukrainian ballet veteran Vladimir Shoumeikin to a tune by a popular Ukrainian composer Mstislav Skorick. The mood is happy, young, and a little mischievous. Both dancers performs in Ukrainian character costumes but Sandy exhibits added elegance while dancing on pointe.

The Great River


A group dance performed by Little Mulan Dance Troupe of the Philadelphia Great Wall Chinese School. Choreographed by Artistic Director Lanwei Ji

 

This group piece is choreograohed to a contemporary Chinese pop song "My Motherland." The dance combines Chinese Jiaodong Yangko and modern dance techniques. The long, flowing fans represent the river. Full of lyrical moves and poetic pictures the dance expresses the praise and love for one's home country.
  

Thillana 
 

A group dance performed by Nardhana Academy of Dance. Choreography by Artistic Director Ramaa Ramesh

 
Thillana is a traditional South Indian dance in classical Bharatanatyam style. Intricate footwork patterns are set to an array of rhythmic variations, highlighted with multifaceted spatial design. Usually performed as a concluding piece in a recital, the deluge of technical phrases wraps up with a lyrical finale involving facial expressions, indicative hand gestures and mime.
 

We thank all the participating schools and accomplished dancers and hope to see you next year! Meanwhile, coming soon: a complete photo album of the event. Stay tuned!