World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


CPAA Youth Performing Group

DANCE ORIGIN: Dongbei, China
GENRE: Classical
MANAGER: Virginia Jian
DIRECTORS: Mr. Bing Wang, Xue-Bing Kitty Xu
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2008

CPAA (Chinese Performing Arts of America) Arts Center in San Jose, is home to some thirty artists who create and teach their arts to the younger generation. The 14,000 sq. ft. center offers classes in western and Chinese music; Chinese, Indian, ballet, and hip hop dance; Shaolin kung fu; and visual arts. CPAA Youth Performing Group is an auditioned performing ensemble. Directed by Bing Wang and Kitty Xu (CPAA’s principal dancers) the group represents CPAA in community events and dance competitions and has won many trophies.


Title: Beijing Opera Training
Mr. Bing Wang, Xue-Bing Kitty Xu
Ariel Chu, Sarah Deng, Stella Ge, Amanda Han, Annika Hsu, Amy Jin, Demetra Lee, Serena Leung, Anna Liu, Eileen Mao, Jennifer Pan, Sonya Quaife, Jamie Tsai, Jasmine Tsai, Naomi Wang, Rachel Wu, Eleanor Xiao, Anya Yang, Jocelyn Yeh, Chelsea Young, Vivian Zhang, Ronny Zhao

In Beijing Opera Training budding performers practice—and show off—acrobatics and dance. They also hone their acting skills, portraying stock female characters: the maiden Qing Yi 青衣; the younger maiden Xiao Hua Dan 小花旦; the old lady Lao Dan 老旦, who leans to pick up a pipe; and the female warrior Dao Ma Dan 刀馬旦, who—wearing pheasant feathers—works to perfect her kung fu. 

In 1790, four Anhui theater companies brought a fresh style of music and theater to Beijing. The style merged with folk and opera forms, and it became the stylized Beijing Opera. Beijing Opera's mostly historical and military tales included song, poetry, music, dance, and gesture, with fixed character types and a sparse set. Communist China at first restricted the Opera to portrayal of common workers in plain dress, but the traditional style has since revived.

Dan—female roles—include the young and middle-aged, innocent and dissolute, martial artists and elders. Until the 1930s, a woman's presence onstage was considered indecent. Female impersonators (male) became the great opera stars (including Mei Lanfang, who influenced Brecht and Stanislavsky). Today, girls set on joining the Opera begin extensive training around age eight. They study singing, martial arts, acrobatic stunts, speech, and scripted movements that express specific emotion and meaning. (Trembling means anger; flicking a sleeve signals disgust; circling the stage is a journey.)

Mr. Bing Wang and Ms. Xue-Bing Kitty Xu created the choreography in 2008, based on Beijing Opera forms. The contemporary music is also based on tradition.


TITLE: New Year Celebration
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Xue Bing Xu, Bing Wang
Ariel Chu, Stella Ge, Anna Liu, Claire Liu, Selynna Sun, Jamie Tsai, Jasmine Tsai, Gianna Wu, Jocelyn Yeh, Chelsea Young
Guan Gu Ren
Silicon Valley Chorus
China Central Conservatory of Music - Professor Xili Gui (concert dulcimer), Professor Yue Li (Chinese flute), Professor Jianhua Wang (percussion), Professor Qiang Zhang (pipa)

The Lunar New Year is the most important and joyous festival of the Chinese calendar. Usually falling on the second new moon after the winter solstice, the celebration symbolizes a new beginning of everything—a good harvest, better luck, higher achievement, harmony and peace, and in general, hope to the people. The young dancers on today's stage are portraying the children of Dongbei, celebrating their happiness for the New Year and for the future. Their costumes symbolize good fortune, as the color red is linked to a famous Chinese legend. Thousands of years ago, Nian, a terrible beast, threatened to devour communities. It was discovered that Nian feared the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises—so firecrackers and red became the hallmark of Chinese Year. If celebrants can keep Nian away for another year, they are to be congratulated. The CPAA Arts Center dancers will no doubt succeed—as they dance with the traditional silk banner and whirling handkerchiefs, demonstrate special ribbon techniques, perform cartwheels and handsprings, and shout with happiness, "Let's play! It's the New Year!"

CPAA Arts Center is accompanied by four international guest musicians, all professors from the Central Music Conservatory in Beijing: Qiang Zhang on pipa, Xili Gui on dulcimer; Jianhua Wang on percussion, and Yue Li on Chinese flute. Professor Qiang Zhang is a concert pipa musician, and a leading proponent of pipa research and performance. Professor Xili Gui is a well-known concert dulcimer (or yangqin) artist and has published many articles on performance. Professor Jianhua Wang is an award-winning master of percussion and serves as the Vice-Chair of National Percussion Association. On Chinese flute, Yue Li was golden award winner of many national competitions, and is a rising star of Chinese folk music.


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