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A Moving Painting - Popular Poetic Dance Returns to Chongqing

By SHIHAN YANGICHONGQING|May 05,2022

Chongqing – The dance show, Poetic Dance: The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting, performed in Chongqing in January, was a great success. Feeling the audience’s enthusiasm in Chongqing, the dance show will return to Chongqing Shi Guangnan Grand Theater from Jan 7 to Jan 8 next year.

The dance show has been a hit since its debut at the National Center for the Performing Arts in August 2021. During the Spring Festival Gala in the Year of the Tiger, the dance clip left a deep impression on one billion viewers and was praised as “one of the most beautiful shows of the Spring Festival Gala.”

The main character “Qinglyu” from Poetic Dance: The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Traditional cultural elements of the show

The inspiration for the dance show is the masterpiece painting A Panorama of Mountains and Rivers by Wang Ximeng (1096-1119), a mysterious genius painter from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

Wang is the only artist in the history of Chinese painting who is famous for just one painting. He finished A Panorama of Mountains and Rivers at the age of 18, and then there’s no more record about him. The masterpiece took him only half a year and is the only piece he left. Based on the painting, the dance show tells a story of a modern researcher of the Palace Museum seeking the inner world of the ancient painter.

The main character “Wang Ximeng” from Poetic Dance: The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

According to its director Han Zhen, the biggest difficulty in creating is understanding traditional culture. “The degree of your understanding of traditional culture is directly proportional to the quality of the work.” In order to create the show, the directors first studied A Panorama of Rivers and Mountains and then almost read all the poems and paintings of the Song Dynasty. It took nearly one year and eight months to put the “poetic dance” on the stage.

The dance show not only shows the beauty of the implication of “A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains” but also integrates many stories behind the masterpiece and the inheritance content of national intangible cultural heritage into the dance drama, arouses the audience’s yearning for traditional culture with elegant and beautiful Chinese aesthetics.

Combining ancient painting and modern dance

The dance show absorbs the beneficial elements of modern dance. It is deeply rooted in the excellent traditional Chinese culture, transforming it into a new cultural vitality and realizing its own creative transformation and innovative development.

“The arrangement of green color in Wang’s painting is full of rhythm, just like a dance. It’s so different from western oil painting. There are so many cultural things to explore.” The two directors were impressed by the painting’s visual shock and Oriental charm at first sight. They condensed the landscape image into the image of women.

The combination of ancient painting and modern dance. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

In the show, the dancers use their bodies and movements to imitate the natural scenery shown in the masterpiece. In other words, dancers are anthropomorphic representations of natural scenes in the painting. The most amazing part of the dance show is that the dancers pose according to the shape of mountains, giving the audience a sense of the hardness of the rock.

The combination of ancient painting and modern dance. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The dance show, Poetic Dance: The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting, is more like a bridge that connects the traditional culture and modern dance, and also a bridge that connects nature and humans. From January 7 to January 8 next year, it will come to Chongqing again, and the tickets went on sale on May 5.

(Mei Xuhang, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)

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