PhillyFolk Artists

Hua Hua Zhang

Chinese Puppeteer

Hua Hua Zhang graduated from the Beijing Performing Arts Academy where she was trained as a performer in the ancient art of Chinese puppetry. From 1974 to 1995 she toured nationally and internationally with the China Puppet Arts Troupe of Beijing. She received many awards for excellence in performance and direction.

In the mid-90s Hua Hua worked on a U.S./China joint venture television production, The Adventures of Hua Hua and Morley. In 1996 she joined the international association of Puppet Artists (UNIMA: Union Internationale de la Marionnette) in Budapest, Hungary, and helped China become a UNIMA member.

In that same year, Hua Hua enrolled as a student in the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts, to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in Puppetry. She studied fine art design, sculpture, puppet construction, direction, production, and many forms of western performance. Hua Hua is the first Chinese national to have earned an MFA degree in Puppet Arts from this program. She also received the prestigious University of Connecticut Fine Arts Award for Excellence.

Hua Hua has appeared in several New York theaters, as well as in the Jim Henson International Festival of Puppet Arts in New York City (twice). She designed, constructed and performed puppets for a national U.S. television program, Between the Lions. She has performed to audiences in China, the U.S.A., Canada, Belgium, France, England, Germany, Holland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Singapore.

Hua Hua formed her own nonprofit company—Hua Hua’s Visual Expressions—to continue to develop her vision of the performing arts and an art education program to share Chinese culture and puppet art with American audiences and students. Since 2000, the company’s productions have toured throughout the United States. Her show, Butterfly Dreams, was presented at The Worldwide Festival of Puppet Theatre in Charleville-Mezieres, France in 2003. She and her company received a Jim Henson Foundation award for creating puppet theater in 2002 and a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Fellowship in 2003. Hua Hua has collaborated with Philadelphia-based Kun Yang Lin /Dancers on several productions.

In addition to working in the theater, Hua Hua has been teaching puppet art at elementary, middle and secondary school and university levels. She is a teacher at the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School.