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Tang Dynasty brought to life at Arts Council

April 23, 2018

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The performance, The Feather Dress Dance, by the Baoji Art Theatre Company on Sunday night. — Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The performance, The Feather Dress Dance, by the Baoji Art Theatre Company on Sunday night. — Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The Tang Dynasty came to life at the Arts Council on Sunday where the Baoji Art Theatre Company performed the opening act to kick boff the CPEC Summit and Expo 2018.

Titled Tang Dynasty Songs and Dances: Impressions of Tang Dynasty, the poetry and dance of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) were recreated to a mesmerised audience.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Xing shared his excitement at the performance and called it a re-demonstration of the spirit of the Tang Dynasty.

“At the time China was one of the most prosperous and powerful nations in the world. Through our historical records, the spirit of the Tang Dynasty was found to be about peaceful coexistence. It is known that diplomatic relations were established during the time with more than 300 states all over the world. The second spirit we have inherited from the Tang Dynasty is of mutual cooperation.”

Mr Xing explained that the Tang Dynasty’s spirit of connectivity, especially through the Silk Road, allowed trade as well as cultural collaborations and people to people connectivity to thrive.

“China right now also wishes to rejuvenate this spirit by engaging this Belt and Road Initiative. I am very proud that CPEC is the frontrunner of this initiative and is the most result-oriented project.

“I appreciate the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people for their cooperation and enthusiasm. The CPEC summit will allow us to benefit from your assessment, your views and suggestions for better cooperation between China and Pakistan.”

CEO of Dawn Hameed Haroon called the performance the realisation of a 30-year-old dream. He recounted his visit in 1981 when he was invited by the government of the People’s Republic of China to head a press delegation. During the trip he had the chance to see a performance of ‘Tang Dynasty Songs and Dances’.

“This performance was created in a way which is exciting; it was a theatrical production but with sociological and art research aspects.”

The cultural heritage of the Tang Dynasty was lost following its fall and it was only with the discovery of the Tang Dynasty tombs that helped unearth paintings, murals and frescoes of the time to allow artists to recreate the culture, in particular the song and dance of the Tang Dynasty.

The first performance of the night was an ode to the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty and was based in the courts where there was a sense of celebration of the dynasty and its diversity; the audience was also being welcomed to enter into a time of great economic prosperity when poetry, music and the performing arts were celebrated.

The dancers elegantly danced their way into the hearts of the audience; their gentle and elegant movements were not easy as their costumes were elaborate and a replication of the times they meant to portray. From instrumental performances to solo dances, there was plenty to showcase the different facets of life in the Tang Dynasty.

The performance ‘The Ly Yao Melodies of the Tang Dynasty’ was a remarkable segment, where different instruments were played and dancers performed alongside.

Among the instruments played was the Pipa, a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, similar to a Chinese lute and is mostly used in solo instrumental performances.

Another instrumental was ‘Zen and meditation’, which was an attempt to attain nirvana through dance. The dancers took cues from the exceptional musicians and through their fluidity of movement vowed the audience.

The feather dress dance was a particular favourite, where fantasy was brought to life. Dancer Weng Wen, who was part of many of the performances of the night, simply stole the show.

‘Women of Xi Fu’ was a playful ode demonstrating symbolism of women, who are the epitome of beauty, wisdom and tolerance. This was a purely feminine expression which was a clear departure from the next performance, titled the Men of Guan Zhong, which had an all male ensemble and displayed masculine traits that were much touted and looked up to.

The final performance titled The Shaanxi Drum Dance was a stunning culmination of the colours of the Tang Dynasty.

Minister Ahsan Iqbal called the performance a sign of Karachi’s revival of art and culture. “This is a great beginning of a new era in Karachi. CPEC is an indicator of how the friendship between Pakistan and China is now higher than the stars.”

‘Tang Dynasty Songs and Dances: Impressions of Tang Dynasty’ will be staged at the Arts Council on April 23 and 24.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018

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