Cultural spectacle

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-25 17:33:01

Taiji, a kung fu drama that integrates nine kinds of time-honored Chinese feats with a flexible multimedia display, will play at Shanghai Culture Square Thursday and Friday as part of the show's worldwide tour.

The show, a co-production by CICAC and China Feat Art Troupe, made its debut in Beijing last October. Its general director, Xiao Xiangrong, has worked with Sakya Dorjee, who is the executive director of the show.

Source of energy

Taiji follows the story of a traveler who is both physically and mentally exhausted from giving performances around the world. He goes through dangers and difficulties and meets with masters of Tai Chi before he finally finds his source of energy under the guidance of a great Tai Chi master.

The part of the traveler is played by American-born Chinese Isaac Hou, who impressed audiences in the China's Got Talent TV show as well as China Central Television's Spring Fesitval Gala of 2012 with his performance with a crystal ball, which he rolls and moves around his body, making the ball appear as if it is moving by itself. The great Tai Chi master is played by He Junlong, the 13th inheritor of Wudang Zhaobao Tai Chi and also the chairman of China Feat Art Troupe.

Scenes from Taiji Photos: Courtesy of CICAC


Scenes from Taiji Photos: Courtesy of CICAC


Scenes from Taiji Photos: Courtesy of CICAC


Scenes from Taiji Photos: Courtesy of CICAC


Scenes from Taiji Photos: Courtesy of CICAC

The nine feats involved in the show are Tai Chi, Wudang kung fu, plum blossom piles (performers practice kung fu moves or even exchange blows while balancing on wooden plinths), face changing, Hou's crystal ball performance, universe ring (a performer fixes himself into a ring with his limbs and spins quickly), pitiao (performers make complex moves while hanging from leather straps in the air), jujitsu, and moqiu (performers maintain balance while moving on a giant seesaw which is elevated high in the air and can move both horizontally and vertically).

"One of the highlights of the show is the performance of moqiu, which embodies the philosophy of balance that's at the heart of Tai Chi," said Xiao.

Moqiu will be performed by Qingfengzi, the 16th inheritor of the Wudang Xuanwu school of kung fu. There will also be dozens of practitioners from the award-winning Shaolin Tagou Education Group of Henan Province.

Targeting the overseas market

Established in 1990, CICAC has been a significant player in promoting cultural exchange between China and other countries. Taiji, from the very beginning, has been targeted at overseas audiences, according to Xiao.

Though the show takes inspiration from time-honored Tai Chi culture, it has been made more contemporary with multimedia visual and audio effects as well as its stage and music design.

"In terms of music, I didn't choose popular composers for dance dramas or Chinese operas, but instead I invited Ma Shangyou, who is established as a film composer," Xiao told the Global Times. He said he believed a film composer would be better able to use music to facilitate the development of the story line.

Ma is a composer, songwriter and music producer who has written music for Chen Kaige's Sacrifice and Ning Hao's Silver Medalist. Meanwhile, the visual director Feng Jiangzhou, a renowned multimedia artist, has prepared seven virtual scenes that integrate real props to create a cinematic experience for audiences.

"It is a modern expression of an ancient subject. We use stage design that is internationally accepted, and present the show in a way that is friendly to young people's watching and listening habits, in the hope of passing on the cultural heritage to more young people, " said Xiao.

It's high time

"In the past we used to choose arts of external strength such as kung fu from Shaolin Temple to manifest the power and valiance of Chinese people. But in the blood of Chinese people there is Taoism, which is to take the quiet approach rather being fierce, to make the smart move rather being reckless, and to hide one's capacities and bide one's time," said Xiao, who once served in the planning and directing team at the closing ceremony of Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

"But now it's time to showcase the confidence and elegance of Chinese people, and Taiji is born for this new era," added Xiao, who believes Tai Chi  is part of the DNA of Chinese culture.

The show will tour Indonesia in August and Singapore in October, and next year will tour around Australia and Europe.

Date: May 29 and 30, 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square


Address: 36 Yongjia Road


Tickets: 80 yuan to 1,280 yuan

Call 6472-6000 for details

Newspaper headline: Stage show displays time-honored feats

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Theater, Culture

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