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June 12, 2010

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Scroll comes to life in dance poem

The dance poem "Qingming Riverside" by the Hong Kong Dance Company brings to kaleidoscopic life the national treasure scroll, "Along the Riverside During the Qingming Festival," depicting the daily bustle and festivities along the Bian River for the Qingming Festival.

It will be performed on July 9-10 at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

The famous, 5-meter-long scroll from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) focuses not only on tombs-weeping and prayers but also on vibrant, multifaceted life along the Bian River in what is now Henan Province. The astonishing painting, created between 1119 and 1125, features 814 people.

The Hong Kong Dance Company recreates the panorama under the guidance of the group's artistic director and choreographer Leung Kwok-shing.

In "Canal Willows," female dancers in platform shoes imitate the willows swaying in the breeze. "Spring Countryside" draws on the ancient donkey dance to recapture the scene of donkey caravans carrying charcoal into the city as depicted in the painting.

Throughout are traditional dances, rituals and festivities, as well as ordinary city life. There's a ritual parade and stylized horseback riding movements from Chinese opera, a fish lantern parade, and boat rowing on land dance. There are buskers, acrobats, monks, fortune tellers, stilt walkers, squat dancers and tradesmen of all kinds.

The modern aesthetic is strong and lyrical.

The dance performance is part of Hong Kong's cultural presentations during the World Expo 2010.

After two years of meticulous studies on the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and its dance history, the creative team, with the help of specialists, developed a lyrical interpretation of the painting, not focusing on the storyline but concentrating on the poetic structure.

"Qingming Riverside" premiered at the Hong Kong Cultural Center in July 2007 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It toured the Chinese mainland that fall and received the 2008 Hong Kong Dance Award.

Famed choreographer Jia Zuoguang called the production "archaic elegance and an admirable collection of talents. Affection through dance and dance with affection."

Established in 1981, the Hong Kong Dance Company has staged more than 100 productions, many of which have received critical and popular acclaim. Choreographer Leung is noted for creations based on traditional Chinese art and dance forms, blending Eastern and Western cultures.

Date: July 9-10, 7:15pm

Venue: Lyric Theater of Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 50-380 yuan

Tel: 6359-8032, 6372-8702


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