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U.S. student ballerinas to stage traditional Chinese dance


01-30-2016 15:36 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Spring Festival

As China's Spring Festival draws closer, performers who are about to step onto the stage of the Spring Festival Gala are practicing hard for the show. In addition to the super stars and professional artists, a group of US student ballerinas are expected to wow the audience with a dance that combines the beauty of oriental and western art.

Forty-nine young and delicate ballerinas are dancing to the tune of a traditional Chinese ballad, the Jasmine Flower. This group dance integrates China's traditional fan-dance with ballet.

Most of these dancers are from Chinese families living in the United States, including the lead dancer, Leilani Tian, who said she was thrilled to learn she would get the opportunity to perform on the stage of the new year show.

"Everyone was like in shock because we couldn't believe it, you know. How could this dance school that was so far away and so like away from China and in America. We could be on that huge stage, just like all those people we watched on TV. We couldn't believe it," said Leilani Tian, a dancer.

Also excited is Leilani's mother, who is keen to let her daughter know more about China.

"As China becomes ever more important in the world, understanding more about the country will be good for the future development of these young children," said Zhang Lan, Leilani's mother.

And the only African-American girl in the group, Alina, said she is looking forward to her first trip to China.

"I knew about Chinese new year, but I didn't know this big performance. So I'm just really nervous because everyone was like 'its such a big deal' (reporter: over one billion people will watch it) I'm really nervous but I'm really excited and everyone was working really hard, and I think that we will do well," Alina said.

While for the US-born Chinese girls in the group, this opportunity offers a chance to learn more about the traditions of China.

"I'm just mostly excited because I know this is a very big Chinese tradition and even me living in America really far away from homeland, I can still see it every year, the Chunwan, and I never thought that an opportunity can come to someone like me, so I'm just so excited for something special to come my way," said Kang Ni, a dancer.

Though these girls have been dancing during their extracurricular time, some have won top awards in the 2014 Youth America Grand Prix with this dance. And now as more dancers are involved, more efforts are required.

"The audience went wild, they were just so excited I can't see it enough, they were just amazing. There's gonna be 49, so that's almost doubled the amount of students, so there's double amount of work and effort that they are putting into to make them all synchronised and to give that solid technique down," said Billie Buddenhagen, manager of Youth America Grand Prix.

While the girls are expected to give a stunning performance to Chinese audiences, they are also getting a once in a lifetime experience, celebrating the Spring Festival together with the over one billion Chinese people.

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