El Cerrito High School's campus appeared from the outside as it does almost every Sunday: empty.
But inside, 30 minutes before Ah-lan Dance's annual performance is scheduled to start, the hallways around the performing arts theater are nearly unnavigable due to the vibrantly-costumed dancers (ages four through adult) preparing for their parts.
There are no dull colors here. The elaborate costumes feature brilliant hues, flowing fabrics and a variety of accessories designed to enhance the pageant of Chinese dance about to unfold on the stage –including classical dance and dances from various minority groups in China.
Sunday's performance was the second of two presented at the high school this weekend by dancers under the direction of Ah-Lan Min of El Cerrito, who offers classes in Chinese folk dances for all ages and skill levels in Albany. Her students in shows that have grown increasingly polished and popular.
The name of this year's production, "," describes the second half of the show, in which dances, clothes, and music from various cultures are shown separately at first, and then together for the finale. The printed program includes a brief history of the famous Silk Road trade route, explaining that it had reached as far as Rome, Japan, and India. This historic cosmopolitanism is visible in the dances, which tell a tale that ends with dancers from all of the eras and cultures combining in a colorful crescendo.
Behind the spectacle were a number of people playing key off-stage roles, including Chris Morocco, the director of the impressive lighting for the show, who worked his magic from the control booth behind the audience.
Also receiving special thanks for financial support were six individuals listed in the program: Michelle Chen, Kathy Fang, Yibin Li, Lena Zhang, Diane Lee and Mierong Huang. (A copy of the program is attached.)
It's hoped that the attached photos provide a glimpse of the Silk Road journey offered by Min's choreography, the performers' energy, the vivd costumes, Morocco's lighting and the several others who made the program possible.