Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 Instagram YouTube Friday, Aug 19, 2016

Celebrating China-Africa relations through dance

By Taddeo Bwambale (People's Daily Online)    14:05, August 19, 2016

A frenzy of traditional Zulu dance routines (Photo/Taddeo Bwambale)

Professor Wole Soyinka sat in a lecture theatre at Peking University to watch a performance of his acclaimed play The Lion and the Jewel by students from Peking University.

It was not only the first time that his work was being showcased to Chinese audiences, but also testament to the idea that true art knows no borders.

Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, poet, novelist and literary critic, had just delivered a lecture about art and culture in the era of globalism. That year was 2012.

Now four years later in May, on the same stage Soyinka’s play was performed. Professor Li Anshan, the director of the Centre of African Studies at the Peking invited a different performer.

Simuye Afrika, a troupe of Zulu dancers would have their turn to showcase African culture through dance and creative performances to an audience in Beijing.

Within no time, the dancers spring onto the stage and break into a frenzy of rhythmic dance routines supported by the sound of African drums.

Clad in dried animal skins and carrying a staff each, the male performers break into frenzied dance with high-flying kicks as if to chase away animals.

Simuye Afrika dance group give a taste of contemporary dance

Each of the vigorous styles and movements are performed to reflect an important aspect of African culture, from celebration to harvest, courtship or just having fun.

The women take part in graceful, rhythmic dance routines but soon break into vigorous routines backed by loud peals of drums.

A group of young Chinese performers take to the stage and perform a rendition of Miria Makeba's hit song Malaika, albeit with a touch of drums.

When the Zulu dance troupe returns to the stage, there is more dance, more frenzy and more instruments. Together with the troupe of young Chinese performers, they sing a Chinese song.

The troupe sums up its performance with contemporary urban dance and takes a detour with a rendition of the late Michael Jackson’s chart topper, Thriller.

At the end of the electrifying performance, it is not just the excitement but an understanding of some unique aspects of African culture that stay with the audience.

Professor Li, an expert on African history and China-Africa relations says drama can play a crucial role in promoting people-to-people contact between Chinese and African people.

Professor Li Anshan sets the stage for the performance

Over the years, Sino-Africa cultural cooperation has been growing with increasing cultural exchanges between performers from the two sides.

Culture is one of the 10 areas of cooperation between China and Africa, announced by President Xi Jinping last year as part of a new comprehensive strategic partnership.

Chinese cultural festivals have become more prominent in Africa while at the same time African dance and culture is gaining spotlight in China.

In 2012, a troupe from the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province captivated audiences in Uganda when they performed at the National Theatre in Kampala.

Performing before a fully-packed auditorium, the monks kept the audience guessing with their signature death-defying stunts, acrobatics and music.

Seated side-by-side, Chinese ambassador to Uganda, Zhao Yali tossed to then Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to celebrate 50 years of China-Africa friendship. 

Chinese performers display their skills with the African drum

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Wu Chengliang,Bianji)

Add your comment

Related reading

We Recommend

Most Viewed


Key Words