Culture

Dance Drama: Reliving China’s Ancient Silk Road Love Adventures

Guests were recently treated to a scintillating performance in the Chinese city of Dunhuang.

As part of the 2017 Belt and Road Forum on Media Cooperation and the Second Silk Road International Cultural Expo that held in Dunhuang City in China’s northwestern Gansu Province from September 19-20, 2017, guests were treated to a special dance drama performance.

“The Silk Road,” a classic Chinese drama was performed by the Gansu Dance Troupe on September 18, 2017 in the Dunhuang Grand Theatre. The hall was filled with at about 6,000, people, mostly officials and journalists participating in the media forum and cultural fair. “The Silk Road” is a story of how Zhang, a painter and his daughter, Yingniang, risk their lives to save Yunus, a dying foreign merchant. Later, Yingniang is seized and taken away by bandits while trying to protect Yunus.

Years after, Zhang finally discovers his daughter who was forced to serve as geisha in a troupe giving performances in Dunhuang market. Yunus pays a huge ransom to the troupe for Yingniang’s release and happy reunion with the family. The setting of the story is Sanwei Mountain where thousands of Buddha statues stand in the Mogao Grottoes with beautiful Dunhuang frescoes in the background.

The drama performance, which lasted about two and half hours, was a tribute to the wisdom represented in Dunhuang art and the enduring friendship between China and other countries. In a unique and fascinating art form on stage, the dance drama reproduced the prosperity of the ancient Silk (or trade) Road and represented the artistic beauty and cultural significance embedded in Dunhuang frescoes.

With a wide range of colourful costumes, performers took to the stage in different scenes depicting the struggle to trace and recover Yingniang from her abductors. The audience watched with rapt attention as beautiful lighting effects opened and closed on various sets of performers. The dance drama performance was produced by Lu Jinlong and directed by Feng Shuangbai.

“The Silk Road” won “The Best Dance Drama in the 20th Century in China” prize and has received 15 other awards and achievements. The play has been performed 2,800 times in the past 38 years in almost 40 countries to more than 4 million people.

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