Beijing Dance Academy's THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS Opens at The Ahmanson Theatre

Beijing Dance Academy's THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS Opens at The Ahmanson Theatre

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, Chinus Cultural Productions and China Arts and Entertainment Group are proud to present the U.S. premiere of "The Butterfly Lovers," hailed as China's Romeo & Juliet, performed by the Beijing Dance Academy (BDA) Youth Dance Company, the most prestigious dance academy in China. This is the first stop of a five city west coast tour including San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle.

"The Butterfly Lovers" will have three performances only at the Ahmanson Theatre - February 12 and 13 at 7:30pm, and February 14 at 2:00pm. Tickets are on sale now at Center Theatre Group's Box Office (213-628-2772), in person at the Ahmanson Theatre Box Office, or at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.

On a recent tour in France, Le Republic and L'Independent featured front-page photos of the Beijing Dance Academy Youth Dance Company, praising it as "the best classical, contemporary and traditional dance company out of China, providing French audiences with a fabulous and unprecedented night of enjoyment."

The production is choreographed by Zhang Jianmin to China's most famous violin concerto ‘The Butterfly Lovers,' written in 1959 by Chinese composers Chen Gang and He Zhanhao . The lead roles will be performed by Wang Zihan and Shao Junting, respectively. Both Mr. Wang and Ms. Shao are graduates of Beijing Dance Academy's Classical Dance Department, and have won numerous awards in prestigious national dance competitions.

Set in Eastern Jin Dynasty of China (circa 265-420), the legend of "The Butterfly Lovers" centers on Zhu Yingtai, the only daughter of the wealthy Zhu family in the Zhejiang Province. Challenging traditions, Zhu convinces her father to allow her to disguise herself as a young man so she can travel to the city of Hangzhou to study. There, she meets the handsome Liang Shanbo, they become best friends, and Liang never suspects that his friend is actually a woman.

Over the years, Zhu realizes she has fallen in love with Liang, but cannot reveal her true identity. When they finish their studies, she comes up with a plan, inviting Liang to visit her residence to court her sister. When Liang arrives, he finds to his surprise that Zhu is a woman. They vow their love to each other, however, the joy of their reunion is short-lived as Zhu's father has arranged for her to marry a rich man. Liang is heart-broken upon hearing the news, falls ill and dies.

Upon hearing of her lover's death, Zhu is now heart-broken, but powerless. On her wedding day, the skies grow stormy as the procession reaches Liang's grave. Suddenly, a huge bolt of lightning strikes the grave, splitting it open. Zhu throw herself into the grave, reunited with Liang forever, and the two lovers are magically transformed into butterflies.

The evening will also include a selection of award-winning classical Chinese pieces, choreographed by China's up and coming choreographers, including Zhou Ping, Gao Chengming, Zhang Yunfeng, Sun Ying, Chen Weiva, Hu Lei, Jiang Yang and Zhang Disha. Performances include "Singing of the Wind," gold medalist for choreography and silver medalist for performance at the First CCTV Dance Competition. Also on the program is "Emperor Qin Shihuang Calls on Troops" (1995), inspired by the terra-cotta warriors of Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), first prize winner of the Beijing Dance Competition, gold medalist for choreography and silver medalist for performance at the First CCTV Dance Competition.

About The Beijing Dance Academy Youth Dance Company
Beijing Dance Academy Youth Dance Company was founded in 1987, and has quickly established itself as a powerhouse in the Chinese dance scene. Beijing Dance Academy is the most prestigious dance academy in China (comparable to the Juilliard School's dance program) and is constantly producing talented dancers to join the BDA Dance Company. Two thirds of the dancers from the company have won gold medals in prestigious national contests such as the Lotus Cup, the Peach and Plum Cup and CCTV dance contests.

The dance style of the company is based on Chinese traditional classical dance and Chinese ethnic and folk dance, with contemporary influences. BDA has toured internationally to the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, Spain, Romania, Byelorussia, Japan, South and North Korea.

About Chinus Cultural Productions
Chinus Cultural Productions produces arts, cultural and educational programs that promote cross-cultural understanding between China and the US. Chinus believes that the exchange of artists, musicians and educators across the Pacific contributes to a harmonious relationship between the two peoples.

Recent Chinus productions include Global Harmony "Divas in Beijing" concerts featuring opera stars Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, and "new generation three tenors" Marcello Giordani, Salvatore Licitra, Ramon Vargas during the 2008 Beijing Olympics; The Juilliard Orchestra China tour in Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou; New York Choral Society China Tour with concerts in Beijing and Shanghai; New York Choral Society concerts at Carnegie Hall "the Yellow River Cantata;" All Nations Dance Company China tour; and World Monuments Fund conservation projects in the Forbidden City. For more information visit www.chinusculture.com <http://www.chinusculture.com> .

About China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG)
Established in April 2004, China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) is the first large state-owned cultural enterprise approved by the State Council. CAEG is funded by the State Council, policy-guided by the Ministry of Culture and supervised by the Ministry of Finance in its state property operation. CAEG consists of nineteen wholly owned enterprises including China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA) and China International Exhibition Center (CIEC). As the CAEG' s core companies, both CPAA and CIEC have a history of being the largest worldwide providers of Chinese performing arts and visual arts, as well as China's biggest presenters of international performances and arts exhibitions. Over the past decades, CPAA and CIEC have undertaken governmental cultural exchange projects, as well as organizing commercial tours of performances and exhibitions both at home and abroad. During the past five years, CAEG has arranged 256 overseas performances and exhibitions, and has presented more than 14,000 performances in nearly 60 countries and regions with an audience of 20 million.

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