Thirty-five young Sydneysiders will wow audiences with a white and green flower dance combining contemporary movement and classical ballet as part of Sydney's Lunar New Year celebrations.
Jasmine Flower, directed by international dancer and examiner Lucy Lu, takes place on 17, 23 and 25 February at the festival stage at First Fleet Park in The Rocks.
Eleven-year-old performer Kitty Jiang, from Hurstville, who will dance alongside 34 other children for the work, said it was a privilege to help celebrate the City of Sydney's Chinese New Year Festival with her friends on stage.
Kitty, who has been dancing since the age of five and has performed in several of Sydney's annual Chinese New Year celebrations, said: "It's an opportunity for us to be able to perform and show everybody what Chinese New Year is all about."
The Jasmine Flower dance is based on a Chinese folk song with the same title, dating back to the 18th Century -gaining popularity in China and overseas. The performance for Sydney Chinese New Year involves local children aged 6 to 11, who were selected from 250 students at St George Academy of Performing Arts in Hurstville.
Jasmine Flower director Lucy Lu is an international dance examiner with the Royal Academy of Dance in the UK who has organised performances for Sydney Chinese New Year for 15 years.
Ms Lu, who now lives in the St George area, won a scholarship after beating 10,000 students to one of 20 places at Shanghai Ballet School at the age of 10. From this boarding school scholarship - with all accommodation, food and study paid for by the government - Ms Lu's glittering career as a professional dancer, teacher and examiner began.
Ms Lu was a professional dancer in classical ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet and a solo dancer in many performances in the 1980s and 90s.
"In Romeo and Juliet, I was performing as a boy - Mercutio - the best friend of Romeo, as they wanted a shorter person for the role. This was just one of the highlights of my career - and there are so many to choose from."
Ms Lu brings her experience as an examiner into her St George Academy of Performing Arts studio when she teaches children.
"I like sharing my experiences with senior students. When I am teaching the younger ones I tell them their feet are like a cat licking a bowl of milk - very controlled, smooth and flowing."
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the children's performances are always a very special part of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival.
"Our wonderful Lunar New Year events encourage young talent and bring generations of families together - and they show just how brave these young performers are in being on a stage with thousands of spectators."
Ms Lu has taught ballet and Chinese folk dance since 1994 when she was just 17. After being a professional ballet dancer for 10 years, Ms Lu became a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dance for a further 10 years before becoming an examiner in 2015.
She now travels all over Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand examining dance students several times a year for four to five weeks at a time.
Examiners often continue until they are 70 to 75 years of age, and Ms Lu would like to be an examiner for as long as she can. Teaching children from age three to adults, she sees plenty of up-and-coming talent.
"I like examining in Japan and Australia, and I really enjoy my role as an examiner. I love the domestic tours in Australia as the candidates prepare very well and it's wonderful to watch," she said.
You can see Jasmine Flower in the Community Performance Program
Friday to Sunday on 16-18 and 23-25 February, 4pm followed by the Lunar Spectacular Show, 7pm
Join us in this free celebration of culture, community and friendship. Performers from a wide range of community groups will take to the outdoor stage with traditional and contemporary performances at First Fleet Park in The Rocks.
From 5pm, groups specialising in choir performances, opera, classical music, fashion shows, tai chi and kung fu are sure to delight.
Featuring the best of community performances, the Lunar Theatre Show is a one hour curated program that showcases traditional Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean dancing; Japanese hip hop; Korean drumming; the Chinese New Year Festival Dancers; and stilt walking.
Sydney Chinese New Year 2018 celebrations run from 16 February to 4 March. For more information see sydneychinesenewyear.com
The Lunar Theatre Show is a one hour curated program that showcases the very best in community performances. You can catch the Lunar Theatre Show at Barney and Bligh Reserve on 16-18 and 23-25 February from 7pm. From 5pm, a number of community organisations will be on hand to provide pre-show entertainment, including tai chi demonstrations, drumming and choir performances.