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Chicago charmed by Chinese minority dance

(Xinhua)

16:12, June 13, 2012

CHICAGO, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people gathered Tuesday night in Chicago's Roosevelt University Auditorium Theater for the U.S. premiere of "Legend of the Sun," a special traveling dance drama from China's Zhuang minority group.

Theater enthusiasts from both China and the United States sat spellbound as performers from the Nanning Art Theater production presented the moving folk tale from Guangxi Province, featuring traditional Zhuang music and dance.

Through an alternating selection of pensive dance solos and jubilant chorus numbers, the "Legend of the Sun" tells the story of how hero Le searches throughout the wilderness trying to find the sun, and his ensuing romance with Sister Teng.

The production's exquisite costumes and elaborate set captured the attention of many audience members, who marveled at the grace and beauty shown by the troupe's performers.

"It's a very exciting, lovely spectacle," Ben Hodge told Xinhua.

Hodge previously served as Executive Director of Chicago's Giordano Jazz and Dance Company, and was very appreciative of the set design and atmosphere.

"Music and dance is always one of my choices for telling a story, and I especially like the use of the chorus and group of dancers to aid in the invocation of the set of the mountains and stream and so forth for this journey," Hodge added.

Other audience members thought it was especially interesting to note the differences between Chinese and American dance.

"In American ballet a lot of the story is told through the body, but here you see a lot of story within the face and the body, so it's just a little different," commented Sara Pavlak.

Although Tim McGuire said he knew before that China has 56 different ethnic groups, he said "Legend of the Sun" made him realize just how much diversity there could be within China, and how those differences could extend into art.

"Finding out that there could be so much variation between the provinces really makes me want to see so that when something new comes it will be totally different, even though it's coming from the same country," McGuire told Xinhua.

The Zhuang ethnic group is China's largest minority with more than 16 million people, and the majority of the "Legend of the Sun" dancers are of Zhuang descent.

In addition to Chicago, the troupe will also tour Denver and Los Angeles.

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