Atlanta Chinese Dance Company

 

 

 

 


History of the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company

ACDC is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the development, advancement, and appreciation of Chinese history and culture through the art of Chinese dance to metro Atlanta and surrounding areas.  Founded in 1991 by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee, the company currently trains over eighty dancers.  ACDC has presented fourteen original full-evening productions in theaters such as the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, Robert Ferst Center for the Arts, and Rialto Center for the Performing Arts as well as numerous community outreach performances throughout the metro Atlanta area.  Most notably, the company appeared in the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and the “Chinese variation” of Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Fabulous Fox Theater for ten consecutive years.

Since its inception, the company has seen tremendous growth, and continues to broaden its appeal. Performances include classical Chinese dance styles, ethnic folk dances, and adaptations of modern dance dramas. The quality of the choreography, dancing, and costumes delights both Chinese and American audiences. The future of the company is filled with much promise and talent.



Meet the Director

Named Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s Lexus Leader of the Arts in June 2001, Hwee-Eng Y. Lee has been a pioneer in the development and appreciation of traditional Chinese dance and culture in the metro Atlanta area: 

·         In 1989 and 1990, she organized fundraising performances by the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), which were the first formal Chinese music and dance performances in Georgia.

·         In 1991, she founded the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company, the first Chinese dance company in Georgia to be granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

·         In 1998, she collaborated with Atlanta Ballet artistic director John McFall in creating an authentic version of the “Chinese variation” for The Nutcracker.  In a rare opportunity to bring traditional Chinese dance and culture to a wider audience, ACDC dancers performed in the ballet’s month-long run of the holiday production at the Fabulous Fox Theatre for ten consecutive years.

·         In 2000, she led the ACDC to become the first and only Chinese performing arts organization in Georgia to receive government funding from the Georgia Council for the Arts.  In 2004, ACDC became the first and only Chinese performing arts organization in Georgia, and one of few in the nation, to receive federal funding from the National Endowment of the Arts.

·         In 2002, she created “A Journey with the Phoenix,” the first Chinese dance drama to be presented by a Georgia-based company.  These were also the first Chinese dance performances in Georgia to use slide projections.

·         Most recently, in 2010, she presented her fourth Chinese dance drama “Nezha” (her first to be based on an ancient Chinese legend), continuing her vision of promoting the understanding and appreciation of traditional Chinese history and culture through the art of Chinese dance.

Ms. Lee, a native of Singapore, started ballet at the age of six and later became interested in traditional Chinese dance.  By the age of sixteen, she was choreographing and teaching Chinese dance techniques at the Singapore Experimental Studio, and was a ballet instructor at the Singapore Ballet Academy.  She also received several certificates from the Royal Academy of Dancing, London, UK.

 In 1978, Ms. Lee immigrated to the US, where she studied jazz and modern dance while completing her BA and MA degrees in economics at State University of New York at Cortland and Boston College, respectively.  She was a ballet instructor at SUNY Cortland in 1981, and was a member of the East West Dance Theater in Boston from 1983 to 1985.  In 1984, she continued her Chinese dance studies with instructors from Beijing, China. 

Since 1986, Ms. Lee has been teaching Chinese classical and folk dance at the Chinese Cultural Center in Chamblee.  She and her students have performed at numerous educational and cultural venues over the years, including thirteen original full-evening productions in theaters such as the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts, Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, and the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Centennial Olympic Games, arts festivals, international days, schools and universities, fundraising events, and Chinese New Year festivities. 

Ms. Lee has played an active role in vibrant arts community in Atlanta.  She has served on the Arts Services Advisory Panel for the City of Atlanta (2000, 2001, and 2003), Resource Council for the Woodruff Arts Center (2001-2003), and the Dance Advisory Panel of the Georgia Council for the Arts (2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009).
 


Meet the Dancers

The eighty plus dancers in the company range in age from five to fifty. They include both ethnic Chinese and Americans who live in the Metro Atlanta area. There are also Chinese dancers who are adopted by American families.  Most of the dancers are students in Metro Atlanta schools.  All students study with Ms. Hwee-Eng Y. Lee in the official school of the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company.


Choreography and Costumes

Great effort is made to maintain the artistic integrity of the Chinese style in the dances. Ms Lee has choreographed many of the dances herself and she also carefully selected the dances to maintain as many of the original movements as possible for her students. Many movements within the dances represent styles, which are hundreds of years old. In fact, each dance in the performance represents a different dance style or time period in Chinese history.

Careful research is also done regarding the costumes, which are designed to be historically accurate. Attention is given to the color, material, adornments, and props for each costume. The exquisite costumes of the Manchu Dance are fashioned after the royalty of the Qing dynasty (the last dynasty of Chinese history). The platform shoes and tall headdresses, which have been brought from the People's Republic of China, accurately reflect the period they represent.

The Bamboo Forest of Yunnan was choreographed by Tang Yebi, a professor in Dai dance at the Yunnan Institute of Nationalities.  The majority of the costumes and props were made in Kunming, Yunnan.


 

Hwee-Eng Y. Lee, Artistic Director

Pictured in the Sword Dance, Ribbon Dance, and Fan Dance

 


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