Dance drama about China's Grand Canal stuns Egyptian audience

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/11/30 15:03:39

A scene from Chinese dance drama To Meet the Grand Canal Photo: VCG

"My eyes and feelings were completely attached to the show, which took me on a magic carpet to taste the beauty of both history and modern life about China's Grand Canal," said Yaldiz Gamal, a lady in her 50th, as she watched the Chinese dance drama To Meet the Grand Canal in the Opera House of Cairo.

"I'm a big fan of the ballet and drama dance shows, and the main common theme was always focusing on the men and women love stories or the struggle between good and bad in a direct way, but this is the first time for me to watch a very elegant performance, with highly professional dancers to defend a canal and tackle a tough environmental issue," Yaldiz told Xinhua.

Introduction to history

To Meet the Grand Canal, which was also performed at the Alexandria Opera House on Thursday, is a presentation and expression of the cultural heritage of the Grand Canal of China.

The canal is the main artery that keeps the Chinese nation prosperous. It links the five major rivers system of China together, the Haihe River, the Yellow River, the Huaihe River, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River.

"It is the most complicated and difficult piece I have ever created," said, Cui Wei, director of the dance drama.

The toughest part was "no one can display the canal's thousand-year history in an hour and a half," the director wrote in the booklet distributed before the show began.

The Grand Canal, spanning over 2,000 kilometers between Beijing and Hangzhou, was listed as a world heritage site in 2014.

The canal was a pillar of the economy, social stability and government function in ancient China, helping the evolution of Chinese culture by enhancing communication between the south and the north.

"For its length and historic importance, the canal was unlike the stream and little bridge scenery in Jiang Nan; It was a huge project. Therefore, we need collective work of creative artists and cultural preservers from different social regions and cultural identities to make a dance show as an homage to the canal and other world heritages," the director told the Xinhua News Agency.

"Based on the common Grand Canal culture of the two countries, the tour to Egypt strengthened humanity exchanges and let both peoples feel proud of their splendid civilization. At the same time, they will allow young people of both countries to write a brand new future," Cui told Xinhua.

Egypt's Suez Canal likewise the Chinese Grand Canal are located in important areas along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The show will be performed at Corinth canal in Greece as part of its second leg, then Lake Erie in the US, the Panama Canal and the Don-River Canal in Russia.

The director added that To Meet the Grand Canal will be in continuous conversation with the world canals to build a culture bridge for exchange with other countries.

"The story expresses love and respect for history and nature," said Mona, an 18-year-old student studying at the Cairo-Based Ballet Institute.

"When I saw the excavation work and the digging of the Grand Canal by the dancers, I remembered the pain that my grandfathers experienced when building the Suez Canal," Mona said, adding that mingling history with love, dance and music made for an unbelievable performance and demonstrated the passion and professionalism of the director.

The music, customs, colors, backgrounds of the canal and movements of the dancers were examples that ballet dancers could learn from and enjoy, she noted.

The show shed light on the hard work of excavating the canal, passing through prosperous years, then came the pollution which threatened the beautiful natural ecosystem in and around the canal. The last scene of the show brings back hope and happiness after the man-made waterway is cleaned and purified.

'Cultural event'

"Such a piece of particular significance should be more of a cultural event rather than just a dance drama," said Menna, another ballet dancer, after watching the performance.

The young ballerina told Xinhua, "It was the first time I had ever watched a Chinese show. I was confused at the beginning because I didn't understand the language, but then the dance made the ideas they were portraying crystal clear."

Despite the fact that the performance was mainly about the environment and pollution, she still saw it as an unforgettable piece of art at all levels.

"I learned today that the value of cultural heritage lies in its essence of people and nature working together," she pointed out.

The music composition and the balanced synchronization of the dancers made her feel part of the history on display despite the fact that she lives in the modern world, Menna said.

"Combing tradition and modernity, the past and future, nature and universal love, everyone can feel that the show is not merely meant to depict a canal but also mirrors the development and integrity of a people who are building and advancing their society," the young girl said.
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