Dance troupe's fusion performance wins over judges on television show

Updated: 2014-07-24 10:03

By LI ANG in New York(China Daily USA)

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Dance troupe's fusion performance wins over judges on television show

Jasmine Ballet Group performed fan dance Jasmine Flower, Chinese fusion ballet, at the audition of America's Got Talent on June 10 in Los Angeles. Their next show is on the night of July 23, where the judges will announce the top 47 contestants who win the chance to perform at New York's Radio City Music Hall for the finale. [Provided to China Daily] 

Performing a fusion of ballet and a Chinese fan dance, the Ballet Jasmine Group, a primarily Chinese-American dance troupe from Atlanta, has made it to the next round of the US television program America's Got Talent (AGT).

The group will conduct a live performance next week at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York on the program, competing against 46 other acts.

Ballet Jasmine made their secondappearance on Wednesday night on AGT's Judgment Week competition. They managed to win over all four judges since their first audition. Noted radio personality Howard Stern commented on the performance: "The choreography was absolutely brilliant. I'm very proud of you and you should be proud of yourselves because you just killed it."

The Ballet Jasmine Group is from the Atlanta Professional Dancing Academy and has 25 dancers, ranging from 15 to 18 years old. Twenty four members are of Chinese descent while one has a Korean background. Previously the group won third place in the Youth American Grand Prix 2014 in Atlanta and was a gold medalist in the 2013 World Ballet Competition USA.

Different from their previous performance of Jasmine Flower, the group did a vigorous fan dance for the Judgment Week episode. Though the fans were kept as the main props, Chinese martial artswere also applied.

Jenny Zhang, a 15-year-old dancer who has been with the dance academy for five years, was emotional. "All of us were crying a river. It's really unbelievable because there were thousands of auditions to begin with, down to hundreds, and then being included is a huge deal for us," she said.

"There was drama happening during the Judgment Week which made me think we weren't able to continue competing for AGT's live so when we heard yes from judges, me and our girls were all crying and I actually haven't cried in years," said Wei Dongsheng, the coach of Ballet Jasmine.

June Shi, one of the parents' representatives, told China Daily that "…she is really proud of all the girls, they do everything well, they get straight A's in school and are great dancers on stage."

"I think the judges really like Chinese-style dance. I really don't think they've seen much of that style before. Our act was not just Chinese dance, but it's a fusion of ballet and a Chinese fan dance," said Jessica Ma, captain of the dancing group.

Debby Song was "pretty shocked" about the result and thinks that one of the most important factors for Jasmine to come this far is uniqueness "…with the technique of point and oriental style, like the props, upper-body movement and the passion," she said.

"Chinese dance helps to shed the impression American have for Chinese, orange chicken and fried rice," said Zhang about their interpretation of the fusion fan dance.

"I think it's a perfect depiction of who we are, we're Chinese but for most of us, we're born and we grow up here in America so by combining Western ballet and oriental dance style, it expresses our identity," noted Ma.

"As parents, we always want them to keep some Chinese tradition with them and dance is part of it just like the Chinese language and it helps them to express themselves," Shi said when asked about why she sent her daughter to the dance academy instead of a traditional ballet school.

"For next week, I want to still stick to our icon, the fan dancing, but we'll do something that's totally different. We'll offer a whole package of performance to judges and American audience and wow them," Coach Wei said.