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Friday, October 13, 2017, 12:46
Staging a dance, dance revolution
By Chen Nan
Friday, October 13, 2017, 12:46 By Chen Nan

Dance drama Jinggang, Jinggang about PLA’s early history premiered at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

An original dance drama will mark the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army's founding.

Jinggang, Jinggang premiered at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Oct 10. It was choreographed by Beijing Dance Academy's president, Guo Lei, and performed by the academy's dance troupe.

The plot focuses on the PLA's early history, especially in the rural revolutionary base in Jiangxi province's Jinggang Mountains that Mao Zedong established in 1927. The site is considered the "birthplace of the Chinese Red Army" - the PLA's predecessor - and the "cradle of the Chinese revolution".

The six-chapter drama starts with a girl reading the letter left by her parents, who were Red Army soldiers. It portrays not only war scenes and soldiers' struggles but also Jiangxi's folk culture. It blends local music and dance styles with symphonic music, for instance.

"It took us a year to collect local materials about Jiangxi," says Guo, who led the team to Jiangxi to visit revolutionary sites and learn more stories about the Jianggang Mountains.

The choreographer adapted the rhythm of Jiangxi's tea leaf-picking operas, a folk art form, to reflect the regional style.

He doesn't portray historical heroes but, rather, focuses on ordinary people in wartime.

"These people are full of hope despite the hardships," Guo says.

"They deserve contemporary audiences' applause."

The dancers are young Beijing Dance Academy teachers. The work was created in partnership with Jiangxi Ji'an Vocational School's teachers and students.

"After Beijing, we'll take the dance drama to Jiangxi. Jiangxi Ji'an Vocational School students will perform in it," Guo says.

Guo is a Jiangxi native and returns to his hometown every year. He has long dreamed of turning the Jinggang Mountains' stories into a dance drama.

"The Jinggang Mountains'stories have been adapted into various art forms, such as TV series, movies and theatrical dramas," Guo says.

"Dance offers a unique vocabulary to present these tales. We hope audiences will feel the PLA's revolutionary spirit."

Jinggang, Jinggang is part of the ongoing Spring Flowers and Autumn Fruits - 2017 Chinese Art Schools Week, an annual art festival offering a platform for major Chinese art schools' students and teachers. About 2,000 from the Beijing Dance Academy have performed in the festival since 2008.

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