|Yang Liping's Spirit of the Peacock|
As the official opening of the Year of Chinese Culture in Australia, The Legend of Shangri La presents a delightfully engaging showcase of traditional folk dance from the remote Yunnan province. The powerful rhythm, precise movement and elated, joyful dancing creates a dance spectacular that both surprises and captivates the audience.
An announcer tells us that the performances are a series of segments representing the essential elements of nature; the sun, the moon, fire, the homeland and the earth. All draw on dance and music that has been performed for centuries across the Yunnan province. The audience is taken on a powerful journey representing all faces of China – from the fierce, determined and acrobatic Earth dance, to the mesmerisingly graceful solo of Yang Liping to the spirited, exuberance of the ‘Stomping Dance’ courtship rituals.
The Legend of Shangri La was the vision of Yang Liping, who plays the role of choreographer, artistic director and lead dancer. Fearing the loss of indigenous music cultures to the influence of modern lifestyle, she spent over a year visiting every village and rural region in the Yunnan Province to discover and understand the ethnic rituals and traditions practiced in each area. She recruited natives from the villages to dance, and says that all she had to do was “brush the dust off these precious gems of performers and allow their natural brilliance to shine through”. Their genuine enthusiasm shines during the performances, and allows the audience to connect with the dancers on a personal level, as well as admiring their considerable talent.
The show also features a range of intricate costumes, many handcrafted by the performers themselves, and 120 unique masks decorated in the styles of the Yunnan minorities.