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Cast and Crew
Lili TengArtistic Director
In a career spanning more than 40 years and crossing two continents, Lili Teng has distinguished herself in dancing, teaching and choreography. At age 9, she enrolled in the prestigious Anhui School of Art and then pursued a degree in Chinese Folk Dance at the Shanghai Dance Academy. Upon completion of her scholastic training, she became lead dancer in productions such as Thunder Top Pagoda (Lei Feng Ta), Flowing North Xian River (Xian Jiang Bei Qu), White Hair Lady (Bai Mao Nu) and Salute to the Li Man Mountain (Li Man Song). She turned to teaching and choreography in the 1970s, directing many national and provincial television dance shows, including the dance drama Hwai River Legend (Hwai He Fon Qing); the opening ceremony of the National Short Performance Competition; and the 1999 National Mid-Autumn Opera Show. Many of her Chinese works won national awards. After arriving in the United States in 1999, Teng Laoshi joined CAAM CDT as School Principal and Assistant Artistic Director. She became Head Artistic Director in 2005. In addition to choreographing and directing CAAM CDT’s annual Lunar New Year productions, Teng Laoshi continues to teach and instill excellence in all of her dancers. She choreographed and directed two dancers to a Gold Award at the 2017 Midwest Overseas TaoLi Cup Dance Competition and to the Judge’s Choice Award and Platinum Elite Award at the 2018 Chicago Regional Taoli World Dance Competition.
Aiqun HeMusical Director
Mr. He, a professional composer and conductor, is a member of Chinese Musician Association, Chinese TV Artists Association, and has been awarded the title of First Class Composer. He was the executive member of the Board of Directors of Anhui Province Composers Association. He was also the producer and artistic director of many operas, dance dramas, TV dramas, TV variety shows, and live concerts. Many of his works received national awards and recognition. Some of his works have been published in national journals. In the early 1990, he began to study and create electronic music. His paper on computer music was well received by other musicians at an international conference. He is currently the director of 3C MIDI studio, where music for professional performances and personal enjoyment can be produced. Mr. Hel served as music director for numerous CAAM CDT productions including this show.
Shuling LaiProduction Manager
Shuling has volunteered extensively at CAAM CDT for more than 20 years and served various roles: a member of the art committee; director of teaching staff; assistant to the artistic director; artistic producer; assistant to stage manager; and a dance coordinator. She joined the CDT’s teaching staff in 1994 and was tremendously successful in instructing young dancers from 1994 to 1999. Some of her choreography and directed work appeared in major productions, including ‘The Water Lily Rhyme,’ ‘Mud babies,’ ‘A Night at Zhuang Village,’ and ‘Little Butterflies.’ Shuling first became an artistic producer and production coordinator in 2005 when she assisted Artistic Director Lili Teng in planning the project, “The Mountains, the Waters, and the People” at the Center of Chinese Culture Dance School. Her recent projects with CAAM Chinese Dance Theater have involved planning and coordinating the annual production show (“Only Love,”) Chinese New Year family shows (“Leap into Spring” and “Close to My Heart.”) She also served as Artistic Production Director at the Dance Theater for “Ode to Flowers”and “Sound of the Drum”, “China the Beautiful (Part 1& 2), “Magnificence: A Splendid Journey”; “Homecoming: A Chinese New Year’s Tale”; “Dancing in Chinese Opera” (2015), “One Earth, One Home” (2016) and “The Keepsakes: A Chinese Love Story” (2017); "Our Dance, Our Dreams" (2018).
The heart of dance, the soul of China. CAAM Chinese Dance Theater (CDT) is a non-profit performing arts and dance academy dedicated to preserving and celebrating Chinese cultural heritage. Every year we connect with more than 10,000 audience members and nearly 200 dancers bringing the best of Chinese dance to the Upper Midwest region. Based in St. Paul, but performing in the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota and beyond, all ages can experience and enjoy the diversity of Chinese dance.
Chinese dance arts celebrates centuries old movement forms from the imperial court to the countryside, derived from 56 ethnic cultures of China (including the majority Han culture). CAAM CDT embraces it all, in its wide array of variations, not just the ever popular dragon and lion dance. For example Han dance includes not only dances featuring agility and flexibility derived from imperial court dances but also high jumps and fast turns inspired by imperial martial arts forms (from which modern day acrobatics and gymnastics were inspired!). These two divergent traditions result in innumerable movement combinations but when you add props such as fans, ribbons, long sleeves, and spears, the artistic dance palate becomes extremely colorful.
Other Chinese ethnic dance traditions with their own distinct dance moves add an entirely new dimension to Chinese dance. (5-7 of these groups traditions are often part of CAAM CDT’s repertoire). Not all, but many are inspired by the animals and environment of these ethnic group’s home lands. For example Mongolian dance (northern China) features high jumps, fast turns and long loose hair inspired by galloping horses across vast grasslands, while Dai dance (southwestern China) imitates graceful elongated torso and arm movements of peacocks and egrets.
Chinese dance requires not only core and leg/feet strength for vertical turns and jumps (barre/floor work is extensive) but also all-out flexibility and suppleness (back/arms/leg stretches are also part of basic training). Not just lower body movement, turns and jumps are essential part of the art form but also extensive and varied upper body movements and combinations such as a wave created from fingertips to fingertips across the arms and back or circular turns (spins) with arms fully extended in multiple planes (leaning back and forward) or figure eight motions (moving right/left and backward/forward simultaneously). Jumps and turns include not only feet outstretched but also with twists in various planes or arching to allow feet to touch the back of the dancer’s head.
Annual Lunar New Year’s Production, summer camps, workshops or residencies, school outreachs, and community performances like Family Fringe are all part of CAAM Chinese Dance Theater's work. A Family Fringe performance is a wonderful way to feel the beating heart of CAAM Chinese Dance for the first time or a lifetime.
For video highlights of some of the dances in this Family Fringe show from a prior show at CAAM Chinese Dance Theater go to Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_6DCvIunhY
To enjoy an overview of CAAM Chinese Dance Theater's varied styles and performances go to this Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sThX6B1zjX4&t=49s