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Shanghai Children's Art Troupe brings Marvels to Newcastle


Newcastle's Journal Tyne Theater played host to one of the world's most extraordinary theatrical troupes on Saturday as the red carpet was rolled out for the China Welfare Institute's Children's Palace, bringing marvels to audiences.

The arts troupe better known as the Shanghai Children's Palace Arts Troupe is made up of 54 members including 39 child performers aged between 9 and 16. The children, dubbed as "cultural ambassadors", demonstrated a wonderful mixture of arts and culture including elegant dance routines, angelic choral music, engaging Beijing Opera, spectacular costumes, traditional Chinese orchestral music and on-stage calligraphy.

"What strikes me is the quality of the art troupe performances," said Stella Hall, creative director of the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, which is behind the city's celebration of contemporary Asian culture.

She marveled at the piano and violin performances, which she said have brought tears to her eyes.

"It's not just a Chinese youth playing Gipsy Melodies. I'm astonished to see him playing with passion. That's the power of music. It resonates with and connects people, making it possible for people from different cultures to understand each other," she added.

Peking Opera "Fight in the Dark" brought giggles and laughter from audiences. The extraordinary Gongfu and innocence of the performers won bouts of applause from the floor.

"There are few words exchanged. But the body language communicated extremely well to the audience," noted Hall.

Shanghai Children's Palace Arts Troupe has been invited to Britain by the North East-based organization Sino-Anglo Cultural Exchange Association as part of EAST'08, the headline theme of Newcastle Gateshead's festival and event program for 2008 celebrating contemporary Asian culture.

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