Lily Cai Dance Company to kick off Artswego series

imageThe Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company’s blend of Eastern and Western influences will open this season’s Artswego Performing Arts Series. The internationally acclaimed dance troupe will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

A former principal dancer at the Shanghai Opera House, Cai strives to combine Asian-inspired work with American sensibilities. Flowing silks and eye-catching visuals combine with inspiration from contemporary artists in the company’s stage productions. The sights and sounds also include original and adapted music, multimedia designs, vibrant lighting and colorful wardrobes.

The San Francisco Chronicle has praised the troupe’s “spectacularly staged work” with its “uniquely American melting pot of traditional Chinese stage pictures, international pop and the cutting edge of post-modern dance.”

The program consists of three pieces. “Bamboo Girls” finds the dancers portraying the shy but playful folk spirit of Dai village girls taking a day to journey up a mountain and celebrate. “Candelas,” set to a Gustav Mahler piece, uses candles as a dominant visual form and metaphor for self-sacrifice, respect and modesty.

The third selection and performance centerpiece, “Silk Cascade,” is inspired by the action painting of American abstract artist Jackson Pollack with an innovative take on traditional ribbon dancing that layers the stage with as many as 200 colorful ribbons.

The production will kick off the season with “high-energy and enthusiastic dance that brings cultural and social messages as well,” said Mary Avrakotos, Artswego coordinator. “As with all our Artswego performers, Cai and her dancers will visit classrooms and provide demonstrations, making their appearance interactive and educational.”

The company’s appearance ties in with SUNY Oswego’s African, Latino, Asian and Native American Leadership Conference, Sept. 22 to 25. Cai will discuss the cultural fusion of her work during a special talk-back following the performance.

Cai and her company will lead a workshop on ribbon dancing at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, in the Hewitt Union Main Level Food Court. Co-sponsored by the Asian Student Association, this free participatory workshop will introduce attendees to the techniques behind these interpretive movements.

Cai also will present a hands-on master dance class at 3 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Lee Hall dance studio. This workshop, geared toward intermediate to advanced dancers, is limited to 40 participants. Cost to register is $15 for the public, free to SUNY Oswego students or ALANA conferees. Pre-registration is required by contacting Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell at 312-2339 or at

The SUNY Oswego Office of International Education and Programs supports the performance and the company’s campus residency.

Tickets for the Sept. 23 evening performance cost $22; $18 for seniors and students; $7 for SUNY Oswego students.

For more information or to make reservations for the evening performance, visit, call the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141 or e-mail

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(Posted: Aug 31, 2005)