Young people savor beauty of Chinese dance dramas

(Xinhua) 15:06, January 22, 2024

XI'AN, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- For Lyu Hang, an avid fan of theater performances, attending as many as 10 dance dramas with diverse themes during the past year provided her with both emotional and spiritual satisfaction.

"These dramas not only captivate the eyes of numerous audiences but also introduce innovative ways to blend cultures and arts across time and space for laymen like me," said the 32-year-old theater enthusiast who is a frequent visitor to the Shaanxi Opera House in the historic city of Xi'an in northwest China.

Chinese dance dramas have garnered high acclaim from youngsters due to their diverse themes, spanning human relations with nature, iconic literati and historical novels, and artistic practices from both the East and the West.

According to a report from the China Association of Performing Arts, people aged 18 to 34 had been a predominant segment of the consumer base in the performing arts market in 2022, accounting for over 76 percent of the total audience.

For instance, the dance drama "Crested Ibises," named after the bird species featuring a red crest and long black beak, tells the story of how people strive to maintain a harmonious co-existence between humanity and nature during the process of urbanization and industrialization.

The crested ibis was thought to be extinct in China until seven wild birds were spotted in Yangxian County in Shaanxi in 1981. After more than 40 years of protection efforts, its global population has exceeded 10,000.

The drama visualizes the natural movements of the species and demonstrates the common environmental crisis faced by the whole world through vivid stagecraft. "The exquisite combination of Chinese folk dance and Western ballet makes it a true masterpiece," said Dai Ping, a professor at Shanghai Theatre Academy.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in the first three quarters of 2023, a total of about 342,000 commercial performances were staged in China, which attracted over 110 million viewers, up 121 percent and 188.5 percent, respectively, from the same period of 2019.

Lyu said that the most impressive drama she watched in 2023 was "Poetic Dance: Dongpo," which she believes is a good example of cultural fusion. The performance depicts the life of Su Shi, a poet and cultural icon from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) through 15 of his most recognized poems.

"I once asked my French friends' impressions of the drama. They told me that they could sense the character's emotions and thoughts conveyed through body movements even without translation," said Shen Wei, who directed the poetic dance.

In recent years, several Chinese dance dramas including "Confucius" and "Mulan" hit international stages in the United States, Mexico and many other countries.

"Art has no boundaries. I hope that audiences from different cultural backgrounds can feel the shared pursuit of human beings through dance dramas," Shen said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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