Madison Miller / staff photo
                                Li Hengda outside Hengda Dance Academy in Bellevue.

Madison Miller / staff photo Li Hengda outside Hengda Dance Academy in Bellevue.

Local director produces Chinese drama

Li Hengda has a dance academy in Bellevue.

A local Chinese director is breathing new life into an ancient tale.

Li Hengda, a resident of Mercer Island, came to the U.S in 1990. Hengda studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy, China’s top institution of higher dance education, and is recognized as a national premier dancer in China.

Hengda spent six years as a principal soloist dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. He is frequently invited to judge international dance competitions, including the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in China in 2014. Hengda has received many grants, fellowships and awards for his innovative work and contributions to the performing arts. Most recently, in 2018, Hengda was awarded the UNESCO Excellence in Dance Arts Awards and deemed a master of his craft.

Since coming to the U.S., Hengda founded American Asian Performing Arts Theatre (AAPAT) in Seattle and Hengda Dance Academy in Bellevue.

Hengda has devoted his time to the education and encouragement of Chinese arts and culture in the United States. Through his work with the Hengda Dance Academy and AAPAT, Hengda has created and directed 34 large-scale dance productions, and several acrobatic productions as well.

His newest work, “The Butterfly Lovers,” is among the first Chinese productions to achieve residency in Las Vegas.

Hengda’s “The Butterfly Lovers,” is a classical Chinese dance drama. It’s akin to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

The folk tale tells the story of two lovers who can never be truly together. It isn’t until their death can their spirits, manifested as butterflies, be together.

While “The Butterfly Lovers” is a classic Chinese drama, Hengda wanted to breath new life into the folk tale.

He said the original production of “The Butterfly Lovers” is about 26 minutes long. The original production typically casts only two performers to play the two lovers.

In Hengda’s production of “The Butterfly Lovers”, the story is about 80 minutes long. He has a cast of more than 45 performers.

He said he wanted to focus on the characters’ feelings.

“We use the performers like poetry,” he said. “They help tell the feelings of the characters.”

Hengda’s production is made up of student performers from the Beijing Dance Academy.

He said he wanted to see more Chinese art in the community. His mission through AAPAT and Hengda Dance Academy is to promote the unique — yet, universal — appeal of all Chinese arts and culture, expressed through the performing arts.

“The Butterfly Lovers” will be McCaw Hall at Seattle Center Sept. 5-7.

“The Butterfly Lovers” is performed by Beijing Dance Academy, presented by American Asian Performing Arts Theatre, and sponsored by CPAA North American Inc.

Tickets can be purchased online through https://asianperformingarts.org/ or https://www.ticketmaster.com/search?q=mccaw+hall+butterfly+lovers .

To receive a 10 percent discount, Bellevue Reporter readers can use the promotion code is BELReporter, and the Mercer Island Reporter readers can use the promotion code is MIReporter.

[flipp]

More in News

Nite Wave plays at the Showbox Dec. 20 Paul Twibell Photography
Nite Wave debuts at Bellevue Meydenbauer Center Theatre Feb. 28.

Now in their ninth year, Nite Wave will debut at a new Eastside venue and play with ’80s icon Tiffany.

Sarah Abdullah is a pharmacist who left Iraq as a refugee. She joined the Welcome Back Center at Highline College and is now only two tests away from gaining Washington state certification to practice her trade. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Recredentialed: Barriers face Washington’s immigrant, refugee professionals

Even with degrees from abroad, it can be difficult for many to get certified in the state.

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

A screenshot of Mercer Island’s new Winter Storm Ready webpage on its Let’s Talk Mercer Island website.
New Mercer Island city webpage houses storm info

Emergency alerts, updates, links.

Alan Roach and his dog, Roxie, reunited in their new apartment. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Al’s new apartment, a community effort

Mercer Islanders give housewares, furniture to formerly homeless man and his dog.

Courtesy photo
                                Elliot Newman (left) receives his MIYFS Family Inspirational Award from Mayor Wong on Jan. 7.
Elliot Newman receives 2019 Flash Family Inspirational Award

It was standing room only at the Jan. 7 city council meeting when Newman received his award.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Most Read