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Dance shows poetry in motion

Updated: 2024-05-27 07:26 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Yonghe Jiunian (Dance of Calligraphy in AD 353), an original Chinese dance drama produced by the Shanghai Opera House, portraying the beauty of calligraphy through dance movements, is touring nationwide. Directed and choreographed by Wang Yabin, it is inspired by Lantingji Xu (Preface to the Collection of Poems of the Orchid Pavilion), a piece of prose by 4th-century calligrapher Wang Xizhi. CHINA DAILY

She adds that the most challenging part of making this dance drama was to decode the ancient ink artistry with contemporary expression, guiding the audience through an artistic journey transcending time to reflect upon the birth and legacy of Lantingji Xu.

The dance drama begins with a young man's exploration of Lantingji Xu. Set against the backdrop of lush bamboo forests, it gradually unfolds the beautiful scroll. The young man, who comes from the contemporary world, has embarked on a journey back to ancient China when the famous calligrapher, Wang Xizhi, wrote the classic piece. Male dancers, amid the rhythmic beats of drums, move onstage, seamlessly merging the essence of calligraphy projected on screen with their bodies. The dance drama integrates calligraphic elements into the visual experience, mimicking strokes through the dynamic movements of the dancers' bodies. Supported by multimedia technology, the stage transforms into different scenes, such as bamboo forests, streams, warfare and the imperial court.

Li Shimin, posthumously known as Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), was an admirer of Wang Xizhi's calligraphy, having collected a large number of his works. The original version of the Lantingji Xu was said to have been buried along with the emperor.

In the dance drama, the young man also travels to the Tang Dynasty. Through a solo dance by Zhang Aoyue, who plays the role of the emperor, audiences witness the inner thoughts of the emperor, who expresses his fondness and respect for Wang Xizhi and Lantingji Xu.

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