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Captivating performance presents poetry in motion

By YIFAN XU in Washington | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-11 09:43

Actors perform the modern dance, Dongpo: Life in Poems, in Washington on Friday. LIU JIE/XINHUA

Soothing sounds emanate from a guqin being played on the stage, a huge painting hanging high seems to transcend time and space, while artists from China dance in front of a packed audience at the Kennedy Center in Washington on Friday.

It was the US premiere of the poetic modern dance, Dongpo: Life in Poems, marking a two-week tour of the United States' capital and New York with eight performances in total.

The contemporary dance weaves together renowned Chinese poet Su Dongpo's timeless verses with his personal experiences, offering a compelling exploration of the human mind. Guided by the haunting melodies of live guqin music performed by Zhao Xiaoxia, audiences were transported to ancient China nearly 1,000 years ago and the depths of self-perception.

Through a fusion of body movements and facial expressions, Dongpo: Life in Poems transforms poetry into a magical experience.

Integration of arts

The performance displays the deep integration of Chinese opera, tai chi and visual arts with a combination of guqin music and contemporary music. It also showcases Dongpo's soul, affection, melancholy, and optimism, while using multiple art forms such as poetry, calligraphy, and painting.

The audience loved the show. Speaking to China Daily, they called the performance "enchanting", "fantastic", "magnificent" and "breathtaking".

"I love the choreography. The colors were so special and perfect, and the choreography was really special. I thought the whole performance was a masterpiece, really," David Gossack, an admirer of Chinese culture and a former diplomat, said.

"It's a complicated production, because basically we start with Dongpo's life. His spirit, his thoughts, and his ideas are transformed into a poem, which forms the base for this production," Shen Wei, the director and choreographer of the show, said.

The show was produced and performed by the China Oriental Performing Arts Group and Meishan Song and Dance Theatre. The American Dance Festival is co-sponsoring its US tour.

China Arts and Entertainment Group Chairman Li Jinsheng said during a reception before the show's premiere that this work was "an innovative production based on Chinese traditional culture, and boldly exploring the integration of Chinese and foreign arts".

"It is the art that brings hearts closer and builds a better communication with the world," he said.

Jing Quan, the Chinese embassy minister, said at the reception that this performance followed the important common understanding between the presidents of China and the US in San Francisco.

"I believe it will improve mutual understanding and learning between Chinese and Western civilizations. Art can serve as a bridge. Dongpo: Life in Poems opens up a new chapter in the cultural exchange between our two countries," Jing said.

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