Facilitated by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, the South-Central University for Nationalities Art Troupe from Wuhan, Hubei, China is visiting Pakistan. On 23rd October, they put up multiple performances in a two-hour long show for the students and faculty at National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad. The program began with a speech by the chief guest, Cultural Counsellor of Chinese Embassy, H.E. You Yi, who thanked Dr Zhang, head of Confucius Institute Islamabad, for encouraging cultural exchanges between Pakistan and China.
The first performance was a series of Chinese folk dances titled Colorful China. From the clear waters of the Snow Mountain, to the hada (ceremonial scarf) of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, to the snowflakes of the Changbai Mountain, all 56 ethnic groups of China have their own dance forms, and the performance was simply a sample of these.
Next, there was a solo performance of two songs, using the horse-head fiddle, a traditional Mongolian bow-stringed instrument. The songs were titled, Ten Thousand Horses Galloping and The Mongols, and were greatly applauded by the audience.
A female dance group then took over the stage, and presented a traditional Tibetan dance, called the Snowland Maids. Dressed in blue, the dancers represented Tibetan women, who live on the world’s highest and largest plateau, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, sometimes referred to as “the Roof of the World.”
Qian Fengzhi, a female singer, came onto the stage in a red bejewelled dress, to perform Chinese folk songs. A student of the College of Music and Dance at her university, she performed two songs, Jasmine Flower and Dragon Boat Melody; Jasmine Flower is a folk song from Jiangsu Province, which describes the water towns in southern Yangtze River; Dragon Boat Melody is a folk song from Hubei Province, and it describes the shy charm of Tujia maidens, as well as the boisterousness of the men.
Next, a group of three boys and one girl performed, ‘Stone Statue and Swan,’ a dance based on a Kazakh legend. Kazakhs of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, tell the tale of a holy swan floating down the river on a stone statue, which has been asleep for a thousand years, but comes to life due to the touch of the swan. The dance is meant to express people’s longing for freedom.
Chen Sasha, a female instrumentalist, played the Uyghur folk songs, Send me a Rose and Dance Music of the Yi People, using the pipa (a plucked string instrument). The pipa, which is sometimes called the ‘King of Plucked String Instruments,’ has a two thousand year old history. The skill of the artist and the variant tones of the instrument was well-received.
Another female group dance, called The Dance of Huayao Dai paid homage to Dai people of the Yunnan Province. For years, the Dai people were influenced by the cultures of their neighbouring provinces, until they finally developed their own unique style of dance. Initially wearing hats, the girls swayed to the beat of the song, and concluded their performance by letting their hair loose.
Zhao Zan’s martial arts performance, titled Overturning Fist, focused on the usage of legs for a well-balanced posture and harmonious rhythm during martial arts. At the conclusion of his performance, 8 volunteers were invited from the audience, to practice martial arts on stage.
After some amusing attempts to learn martial arts, two Mongolian boys performed a Mongolian dance duet or pas de deux titled, Silent Confiding. The enthusiastic dance expressed the camaraderie and trust between Mongol boys.
Next, Liu Xinyu came onstage clad in a yellow robe, to perform the art of face-changing, an important aspect of Sichuan Opera. By simply waving his arms and twisting his head, his painted masks would change at lightning speed. In opera, this is a way of expressing a character’s intentions when dialogues cannot be used. Later, he walked around the auditorium and shook hands with the audience, sometimes surprising people by suddenly changing his masks. At the end, he revealed his actual face and took a bow.
Ze Rou, a representative dance form of the Amdo region of Tibet, was performed by the last group. The dance depicted the exchanges between young men and women, as they display their longing for love and life. The group invited audience members to join them on stage, where everyone performed the Tibetan Guo Zhuang Dance together. Holding hands, they celebrated the beauty of art, which goes beyond any differences of language.
On this wonderful note, the evening came to a conclusion. The Confucius Institute is playing an integral role in strengthening cultural and artistic interaction between Pakistan and China.
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