A dance in time down the ancient Silk Road

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 February, 2004, 12:00am

History textbooks might make dull reading, but the tales of China's colourful past are anything but boring. Now one of the most remarkable stories is being brought to life on stage by a group of dancers.

Concerned that China's cultural heritage was gradually being forgotten, the Association of Hong Kong Dance Organisations set about creating a performance of dance and poetry, The Golden Silk Road.

The piece, which involves 17 choreographers and 670 dancers, was prompted by a sense of sadness that the treasures of the Silk Road were scattered around the world and a need to remind Hongkongers of their proud past.

Director of choreography Law Yiu-wai said he hoped the performance could rekindle an adventurous spirit that helped to make the Tang dynasty one of the most powerful eras in Chinese history.

'If we want to further develop our civilization, we need to adopt the restless, fearless and innovative spirit of the Tang people,' Law said of the pioneering tradesmen, who travelled the trade route to bring wealth and culture from the West.

The dance tells the story of the Silk Road in three acts. The first, which takes place in Changan, recreates the splendour of the Tang dynasty capital. The second portrays the hardships and romance of a poet who travels the Silk Road. And in the final act, the poet returns to Dunhuang and becomes the patron saint of the treasures.

Although the story is set in the Tang dynasty, Law said the choreographers had combined styles of Chinese traditional dance, ethnic dance and martial arts with elements of modern dance to create a colourful and kaleidoscopic dance performance.

'The interesting aspect of this dance piece is that while some of its choreography is modern, the content is about Chinese [culture],' said Congo Yu, a lead dancer in The Golden Silk Road.

By portraying characteristics of different ethnics groups in the performance, the producers hope audiences will get a sense of the many regions and cultures within China.

To Siu Leung, one of the show's producers, added: 'We hope to educate young people about the history of the Silk Road. If we don't talk about it, the future generations will not be aware of it.

'We have a good medium, and we should make good use of our art to review this part of our history.'

The Golden Silk Road is showing at Kwai Tsing Theatre from March 19 to 20 at 8pm. Tickets are priced from $90.