With a mix of varied dance moves, stunning outfits and melodious music, USC’s Traditional Chinese Dance Club performed their 17th annual showcase at the Bovard Auditorium on March 6 – nearly 3 years since the group discontinued the in-person showcase due to the coronavirus pandemic.
TCD is a USC student dance group that aims to promote Chinese culture and dance styles while inspiring others. This year’s showcase theme “A Floating in Time” included performances of various styles of traditional Chinese dance and a one-act dance adapted from the Chinese folk tale and romantic tragedy “The Butterfly Lovers”.
In their opening speech, co-captains Aline Wu, a graduate in environmental and health sciences and humanities, and Sharon Zhang, a graduate in communication and comparative literature, expressed their joy at presenting the show at the audience.
“We’re so grateful that you all were able to pull through tonight,” Wu said. “We’re even more excited to be able to perform in front of the live audience. [at] Bovard again.
TCD took the audience on an exquisite journey, exploring different aspects of Chinese culture and presenting dances and stories from ancient history and modern times.
“Song of Purity and Peace” depicts the palace ladies of the Tang Dynasty. In this show, the dancers wore beautiful Tang-era clothes and swayed to the sound of traditional Chinese music. In “Unfettered,” the dancers performed Han dynasty dances and wore Guangxiu, elegant dresses with wide sleeves to represent young people full of vigor and good humor.
Besides the elegant dances of ancient China, TCD also performed lively modern dances. “Grandmother’s Happy Life” is a dynamic presentation of an older dance troupe, which may remind people of square dancing, a popular activity among Chinese seniors. The dancers dressed in hot, bright red costumes and performed a very humorous scene of grandmothers having a conflict who finally decided to reconcile and dance together.
TCD has made a thoughtful selection of musical accompaniment for the performances using traditional Chinese music when performing Han-era and Tang-era dances. The performance “Fish Among Blooming and Begonias” borrows the theme song from a Chinese anime film “Big Fish & Begonia”, connecting with the sea, nature and freedom. “The First Meeting” used the interlude of a popular Chinese TV show and a love tragedy “Goodbye, My Princess” to tell the heartbreaking feelings of lovers when they recall their first meeting.
Props considered important parts of Chinese dance were also incorporated into TCD’s performances, including different types of Chinese fans, square stools and a silk umbrella.
Sarah Kim, a young student of law, history, culture and East Asian languages and cultures, was “Southern Yunnan Dance”, was her favorite.
“I just think it would have taken a lot of work,” Kim said. “And I really liked the intro where she hides her face with the umbrella because it makes it kind of mysterious at first.”
The storyline of “Butterfly Lovers,” choreographed by Wu, Zhang, sophomore Kailyn Xu, and senior Carolyn Song, served as the highlight of the showcase. In dark lights, two story lovers, Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo, danced heartbroken that they couldn’t be with each other. Accompanied by the “Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto,” the dancer’s supple movements and sorrowful expressions attempted to emotionally impact the audience.
Graduate student Leya Li played Zhu Yingtai, while freshman Jenny Guo played Liang Shanbo. Both infused great emotion into their performance, using each of their dance moves to convey a feeling and deliver a message to the audience. They perfectly portrayed the two lovers and their strong affections for each other. Additionally, “Palace Ladies” received warm acclaim from Kim for her costumed performances.
TCD’s excellent performance also left a deep impression on Kim. Minjee Park, a junior student in American and ethnic studies, said she liked the clean dance moves and the attire of the performer.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen traditional Chinese dance, so I didn’t know much about it,” Park said. “It was a really cool experience…The movements are so graceful and the costumes are so pretty, it was awesome.”
Jaden Stovall, a junior majoring in creative writing and narrative studies, also enjoyed the dance club performances.
“I think what I really enjoyed was kind of the blurbs that came with each performance,” Stovall said. “I thought that was really neat.”