A group of renowned dancers are bringing the art of Chinese dance, and awareness of the richness of Chinese art, heritage and culture, to Markham.

Under the leadership of Chi-Ping Lau, artistic director of the Chinese dance school, Chi-Ping Dance Group, the group was formed as the Chinese Collective Arts Association (CCAA) in 2009.

The CCAA will have a Gala Performance this month at the Flato Markham Theatre.

“We’re honoured to be able to share in the diversity of the Canadian multicultural mosaic,” says CCAA founding artist and dancer, Karen Wong.

Wong began her dance training at age four and since then has traveled the world for many dance tours, competitions and unique performances. Not being satisfied with performance alone, Wong continued her training at the Beijing Dance Academy with the goal of bringing her knowledge home to Markham.

“I would love to pass these experiences along to the younger generation and expose them to as many different opportunities as possible,” says Wong.

In 2013, CCAA formed its own Dance Division, dedicated to supporting and uncovering the special talents of young dancers, and providing opportunities to build their skills while enhancing their confidence and self-esteem.

Regular classes are offered in Chinese dance and gymnastics technique, with some classes adjudicated by the Beijing Dance Academy. The dance division also prepares young people to participate in dance competitions within Canada and abroad. In three years, they have won dozens of national and international awards and accolades. This success has led to performance opportunities including at The Toronto Raptors half-time show and an audience with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In addition to dance classes, the CCAA offers workshops that introduce various Chinese cultural arts to the community, including in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Chinese arts and crafts, Chinese musical instruments, painting, calligraphy and cuisine.

The troupe’s upcoming gala show is entitled, Eternal Fragrance: Stories of Love and Courage. It will feature Chinese dance-dramas of two well-known Chinese tales, The Legend of Mulan and The Butterfly Lovers. The show will present a series of Chinese ethnic dances, with colourful costumes and vibrant choreography.

“There is a remarkable history and culture that can be portrayed through the dances,” explains Wong, “Chinese dance is more than just, as some see it, ribbons, fans, and scarves. It’s living history and art.”

The gala takes place Oct. 15 at the Flato Markham Theatre. Call 905-305-7469 for information.