Since 1988, Lily Cai and her dance company have presented works in the Bay Area and beyond related to the Chinese female experience. In her choreography, Cai strives to portray contrasts of beauty and power, strength and struggle. Spark captures the final rehearsal period for Cai’s, “Red Typhoon,” which premiered in April 2007 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
“Red Typhoon” is based on Cai’s personal experience in China, when Mao Tse-tung’s Red Guards would ambush homes, arresting hundreds of innocent people they deemed counterrevolutionary. This piece explores the Chinese Cultural Revolution, while marking its 40th anniversary and serving as a memorial to those who suffered during this time.
Integrating traditional Chinese dance, both folk and classical, with Western ballet and modern dance, Cai creates highly visual works of art that incorporate costumes, props and multimedia imagery that connect the past and present. Many of her productions are set to original music by Bay Area composer and Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company music director, Gang Situ.
Cai encourages her dancers to fully embody the movement and emotions related to the context of her choreography. To fulfill its founder’s artistic vision, the Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company is composed of only female dancers of Chinese heritage.
Lily Cai is originally from Shanghai, China, and was a principal dancer with the Shanghai Opera House. She moved to the Bay Area in 1983. Recent works include “She: Portraits of the Chinese Woman,” “Si Ji (Four Seasons)” and “Bamboo Girls.” Her honors and accomplishments include commissions for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and the Santa Fe Opera and two Bay Area Isadora Duncan Dance Awards.