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March 11, 2011

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A grand display of Shanxi traditions

SHANGHAI Grand Theater will have the traditional folk look of north China's Shanxi Province next week. Handicrafts and art collections will help bring a taste of the northern province to Shanghai, while two operas with Shanxi characteristics will help depict the Shanxi people on stage.

Seven performances and three art lectures will be staged at Shanghai Grand Theater for the Shanxi Culture and Art Selections from March 16 to April 8.

The opera "Liberation" with strong Shanxi characteristics will help lift the curtains next Wednesday and "A Handful of Jujubes" will continue the theme. Both stage shows were created by director Zhang Jigang, responsible for masterpieces including "Thousand Hand Guanyin."

Based on the love story between a young couple, "Liberation" tries to reveal the emancipation of a generation in China. Setting the women free from foot-binding plays an important role in the opera, which also indicates liberating the mind of Chinese people.

The performance is composed of various folk art elements, including storytelling, local operas, folk songs and dances. The audience will hear examples of Puzhou opera and Jin (the short name for Shanxi) opera, as well as popular Shanxi folk songs.

"A Handful of Wild Jujubes" - another work by Zhang which will be staged later this month, reflects the culture of Shanxi businessman and the spirit of Shanxi people. It draws the picture of a rich Shanxi business family bothered by conflicts among its members.

Typical Shanxi dances such as fan dances, yangko dance and some celebratory dances will demonstrate the beauty and hospitality of Shanxi people in this dance drama.

A huge 15-meter-long board with the words "Huitong Tianxia" (Land of Wealth) written on it and hundreds of jujube trees will bring the traditional surroundings of a wealthy Shanxi family right to the Shanghai stage.

Quick short steps are widely used in the fan dances in "A Handful of Jujubes," to demonstrate the small, beautiful yet abnormal feet, typical among women at the time; while the feet in "Nature Feet Dance" in "Liberation" are young and energetic - suggesting their freedom. Director Zhang deliberately restricts the moves of the dancers' upper bodies, and leaves only the feet dancing, which helps show the energy and spirit of young girls more directly.

Apart from the stage performances, various Shanxi folk art collections will be displayed in the hall of Shanghai Grand Theater throughout the event to help audiences learn more about the province's culture.

Folk artists will also appear from time to time to create the arts on the spot.

? Opera "Liberation"

Date: March 16-17, 19, 7:15pm

? Dance opera "A Handful of Jujubes"

Date: March 26, 28, 7:15pm

Address: 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 50-380 yuan

Tel: 6217-2426, 6217-3055


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