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From caves to the stage

By Cheng Yuezhu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-05-23 07:31

The character of the traveler chances across a catalog of Dunhuang murals and decides to devote himself to the preservation cause. CHINA DAILY

"Guan Shan ingeniously integrates four Jataka tales by having the male and female protagonists play the roles within these tales, so that the destinies of the traveler and the guardian are closely connected with the characters on Dunhuang murals. It's a contemporary way of presenting ancient myths," Chen says.

The choreography merges dance styles from various regions and eras, as Dunhuang was a pivotal interchange on the ancient Silk Road, serving as a hub for commerce and cultural exchanges between the East and the West.

"Because this musical is about the authenticity, goodness and beauty found in our profound Chinese traditional culture, I drew inspiration from tradition and incorporated the expressive movements of traditional dance styles, such as the gestures of the flying apsaras. But I innovated upon them by also integrating contemporary genres, including ballet and tap," dance director Jiang Yang says.

"Every member of our production crew hopes that this musical is something different — something brand new — that can serve as a valuable addition to China's original musicals and that audiences from all over the world can feel the depth and scope of traditional Chinese culture from it."

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