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May 21, 2019

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Dance drama celebrates controversial artist

A dance drama inspired by controversial Song Dynasty (960-1279) artist Su Dongpo visits Shanghai Grand Theater on Thursday and Friday as part of the 12th China Art Festival.

“Su Dongpo in Hainan” tells the story of Su’s (1037-1101) life in Danzhou, Hainan Province after the poet and statesman was banished to Hainan in 1097, because of his opposition to some radical reform measures.

Being exiled at that time was a serious punishment, second only to execution. But Su used his ostracism as a positive thing and adopted the remote, rural place as his second hometown and ran a school.

The poet had no materials, such as ink, to write or sketch, but was creative and invented Hainan’s first ink stick with burnt tree branches and cowhide. There was also a shortage of food so he showed locals how to plant rice with seeds his friends sent to him. Furthermore, there was no clean water to drink, so he taught people how to dig a well.

Su soon earned a great reputation in Hainan for being kind and generous, and people travelled thousands of miles to learn from him.

Danzhou people showed great respect for Su, a trailblazer, seeder of education and culture. Bridges, wells, villages, fields and roads were built and named after Dongpo. They even had a “Dongpo dialect.”

It took the creative team of Hainan Province Dance Theater seven years to write the script and choreograph the dances after following Su’s steps in Danzhou.

The dance drama made its debut in 2016 in Haikou, Hainan’s capital city, before presenting at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Su’s life is an inspiration to all and the audience will discover how a man with a strong will and kind heart laughed in the face of adversity.


Date: May 23 and 24, 7:30pm

Tickets: 60-380 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater

Address: 300 People’s Ave


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