Art imitates life in Hong Kong Dance Company's "Qingming Riverside" for Shanghai Expo
The Hong Kong Dance Company (HKDC) this week presents its highly acclaimed epic dance poem "Qingming Riverside" as a highlight of the HKSAR cultural programme for Expo 2010 Shanghai, China (Shanghai Expo).
The performance, which brings to life the painting and national treasure, "Along the River during the Qingming Festival", coincides with the display of a multi-media version of the historic artwork at the China Pavilion for Shanghai Expo.
Featuring more than 100 dancers and creative crew members, the dance production will be staged at the Lyric Theatre, Shanghai Grand Theatre, on July 9 and 10 as part of the Shanghai Grand Theatre Dance Festival where the HKDC will be the only performing troupe from Hong Kong.
Since its premiere in 2007, "Qingming Riverside" has won numerous awards including the Special Award and First Class Direction Award at the 10th Guangdong Arts Festival and the Hong Kong Dance Award in 2008. It has been staged over 30 times in Hong Kong and major Mainland cities.
Zhang Zeduan's famous ink painting "Along the River during the Qingming Festival" of the Northern Song Dynasty (AD960-1127), depicts the lives of citizens in the ancient capital Bianjing with vibrant street scenes, bustling trading activities and frolicking youngsters in spring time.
HKDC's Artistic Director and Choreographer Mr Leung Kwok-shing said, "It is a great honour and meaningful for us to participate in the Shanghai Expo as well as the Shanghai Grand Theatre Dance Festival at the same time."
Mr Leung described the dance work as a "living scroll painting" that captures the spirit and characteristics of the more than 800 figures in the original painting. He said eight revisions had been specially designed for the Shanghai performance. These are reflected in higher chopines for female dancers and more challenging acrobatic acts for the performers.
"Two acts with 18 scenes are selected from 'Along the River during the Qingming Festival' to form the performance, with 'Nymph of the Bian River' as the prologue and 'Painting from the Heart' as the epilogue," Mr Leung said.
"In one of the scenes – 'Canal Willows', female dancers in chopines imitate the willows 'dancing' in the breeze. Another scene - 'Spring Countryside', draws on a vernacular donkey dance to recapture the scene of donkeys carrying charcoal into the city as portrayed in the painting. Various traditional and ritual dances, such as boat rowing on land, lever dance, stilt walking, and squat dance come alive on stage, and break down the boundaries of traditional dances.
"We strive for a succinct but elegant expression in the dance poem. Complex details of the original painting are simplified to bring out a tranquil and delicate poetic piece. The dance reinterprets the long and profound history of Chinese culture by using contemporary creative vision."
The music for the performance is as striking as the dances. Composer Shi Zhiyou incorporated traditional Henan folk melodies to deliver the music as a symphony. It took Mr Shi five years to complete the composition to showcase the dancers' talents in this spectacular performance.
For full programme details and ticketing information, please visit the Event Calendar section on Hong Kong's Expo website, www.hkexpo2010.gov.hk .
Date: July 9 and 10, 2010
Venue: Lyric Theatre, Shanghai Grand Theatre
Length: Approx 2 hours
Ticket price: RMB 380, 280, 180, 100, 50
Online bookings: www.shgtheatre.com
Booking hotline: (+86 21) 6359 8032 / 6372 8702
(HK): (+852) 3103 1806
(Shanghai):(+86 21) 6359 8032
Ends/Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Scene eight, "Wave Riders", in the Hong Kong Dance Company's epic dance poem "Qingming Riverside" describes the boatmen's efforts to overcome rough waters.
Scene 14, "Fish Watching", in the Hong Kong Dance Company's epic dance poem "Qingming Riverside" depicts vividly citizens visiting a garden with lanterns and watching fish from a bridge in front of the city gate.