Some Buffalo public and private school students had a chance to learn about the art of Asian dance. The H.T. Chen & Dancers from New York City are in Buffalo this week ahead of a weekend performance. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says the Asian-American dance troupe is conducting lecture demonstrations for students.
This innovative, modern dance company opened with a 'welcome dance' greeting City Honors students gathered in their auditorium.
Dian Dong is Associate and education director of the Chen Dance Center. She stood on stage explaining the meaning of each dance performed and how the choreography celebrates the ‘human spirit’.
“We are actually visiting several schools while we’re in town. We also are working with local dancers. Many are from Buffalo, Nichols School, other schools, and they’re learning company repertory to perform on Saturday with us,” said Dong.
The contemporary dance is rooted into themes. Dong breaks down the choreography. Dancers first demonstrate without music. They use chairs and every day movements. Students react to the use of 'waving to a friend on a bumpy bus'.
Another dance is based on the energy of Martial where dancers use sticks and chairs. The piece is entitled 'Untold Lies’.
“You need good health – a strong, healthy body to do this, and also, you know, artistic integrity because it is pretty demanding, explained Dong.
City Honors juniors Maura Graham and Nick Gorman were impressed with the dance troupes high energy and strength.
“I really enjoyed it. It was very interesting to see the Martial Arts aspects and how everyday movements and actions can be incorporated into dance,” noted Graham.
“I thought it was amazing. Usually the only dance things I see were like things at musical and stuff, but this contemporary dance was like a whole new world. It was so interesting to see, especially because it included some parts of Chinese culture too. It imbedded them into the performance,” responded Gorman.
The local students learned more about traditional Chinese dance. In this lecture series it was explained they sometimes they’ll hold fans or swords some symbolize combat scenes, but Dong said not for fighting for something called 'Warriors of Light '. You could feel the energy and strengthen of the dancers. They leaped and turned using long, Bamboo poles.
“We love meeting young audiences, and by their responses to the show, we have a sense of who they are and it actually fuels our energy because this audience was just delightful,” said Dong.
“I saw, during some of the performances, their faces were so emotive and it was so impressive, seeing performers on stage who just looked so into it and so energized,” said Gorman. “And they were all extremely muscle too. That’s something I definitely noticed,” said Graham.
“Basically it is just a technique like anything else, so if we have some time together – quality time together – we can teach someone,” replied Dong.
The final performance of the lecture-demo featured a celebration dance with Chinese red, silk ribbons that flowed and spun in the air with the dancers’ precision moves.