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Shaolin pivots to a future beyond kung fu

Updated: 2024-03-19 06:26 ( China Daily )
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A performer demonstrates moves at the Shaolin Zen Music Ritual performance. [Photo by Lu Ping/China Daily]

Largest live stage

Every evening from late February to early December, in Daixiangou, 7 km from Shaolin Temple, a large-scale live-action performance captivates thousands of tourists from home and abroad.

The Shaolin Zen Music Ritual performance takes place deep in a canyon surrounded by slopes, streams, waterfalls, bridges, boulders, trees and temples.

The performance area covers nearly 3 square km — with the highest point 1,400 meters above sea level — making it one of the largest live stages in the world. The audience members sit on 3,000 cushions provided for them.

The show mainly focuses on Shaolin history, culture and martial arts, and incorporates traditional Chinese music, chess, calligraphy and painting. Eighty-eight traditional zithers are used in the show and nearly 600 martial artists participate. The performance depicts the seasonal changes of spring, summer, autumn and winter, to the accompaniment of Buddhist music.

"We need to find a new way to showcase the charm of Songshan Mountain to the world, breaking away from the monotonous tourism concept of 'climbing mountains and visiting temples'," said Zhou Dingjun, the deputy general manager of the show.

Most of the performers are students from martial arts schools and professional dancers from art schools, along with some local theater troupes and part-time actors.

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