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Sunday, April 16, 2017, 16:38

HK dancers present wonderful British premiere of 'Legend of Mulan'

By Xinhua
HK dancers present wonderful British premiere of 'Legend of Mulan'
Pan Lingjuan leaps while dancing with Huang Lei.  (S2 PRODUCTION/ FOR CHINA DAILY)

LONDON - Following its well-received tours to New York and Sydney, dancers from Hong Kong, China on Saturday night staged the British premiere of its signature dance drama The Legend of Mulan , one of the most legendary women of ancient China.

The performance at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Center in London by the Hong Kong Dance Company (HKDC) is in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, sponsored and supported by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London.

Organizers said it is an exclusive performance of the time-honored folktale about love, peace and virtue.

The British audience was fascinated by the stunning moves of Hong Kong's finest dancers.

The story centers around Hua Mulan, a peasant girl who disguised herself as a man to join the army in place of her aged father. Mulan fought for a decade and gained much respect. She gave up a position at court and retired to her hometown instead. Mulan showed extraordinary courage when it came to protecting her country and family.

A heroine with moral courage and intelligence, Mulan's exceptional wisdom and vision transcend fame and fortune. Over time, the unusual adventures and touching story of Mulan rose in popularity as a folktale and was widely taught in schools. It has also inspired a number of screen and stage adaptations, including the hit animated Disney movie released in 1998.

The Legend of Mulan received two Hong Kong Dance Awards in 2014 for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Ensemble Performance for its spectacular dancing featuring "thrilling battle scenes balanced by a touching portrayal of Mulan's relationship with her father."

As the show's director and choreographer, Yang Yuntao said the classic Chinese story of Hua Mulan is familiar to most Chinese. Artists, in particular, have a penchant for this tale, because the universal values embedded in it enable people from different cultural backgrounds to find their own perspective of appreciation.

In capturing its poetic spirit, he said HKDC transforms the narrative voice into dance movement, and pays meticulous attention to the aesthetical effect of the dance.

"When choreographing the dance, I am most impressed by the spiritual congruity between the bodily semantics of Chinese dance and the Mulan tale. Chinese dance is distinct from ballet or modern dance and is, in fact, an embodiment of the traits of various forms of art. It is a synthesis of traditional Chinese dance, xiqu (Chinese operas), as well as martial arts, ballet, and many more," Yang said.

"As a dance company from Hong Kong, we are closely identified with the city. This metropolis has, perhaps unexpectedly, a very good connection between tradition and modernity. It never loses its root, but it is always open to newness; it embraces almost everything, every kind of things in whatever styles; it bonds with China, and is nurtured by the traditional culture of China. Born in such a city, Hong Kong Dance Company is youthful and vibrant," he said.

"It is, like its home, seeking to reinterpret traditional Chinese culture in a new, contemporary perspective," Yang added.

HKDC was established in 1981 with the aim of promoting Chinese dance. The company has toured internationally as well as cities in China to boost cultural exchange. It has staged over 100 productions, many of which received critical and public acclaim alike.

Yang is of the Bai ethnic minority in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. He has won many awards for both his dance performances and choreographic works. He has been HKDC's artistic director since 2013.

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