The Legend of Shangri La

Yang Liping's Spirit of the Peacock
The mythical lost kingdom of Shangri La has become synonymous with a peaceful earthly paradise.  Chinese star Yang Liping believes that it is a fitting reference to the ancient land in South Western China where 42 minority groups live in harmony, where “dancing is like speaking with the gods”.

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.

Strong, exuberant and skillful, The Legend of Shangri La is both original and entertaining.  With the rapid influence of globalisation reaching even the remote corners of the globe, the production is a timely reminder of the importance of embracing and preserving ancient cultures before they fade into ancient history.

The Legend of Shangri La was showing at the State Theatre, Market St, Sydney between 22-26 June 2011.

It was presented by Ausfeng as the official opening of The Year of Chinese Culture in Australia.

1 comment:

  1. Jen FisherJune 27, 2011

    Beautiful costumes...what other events are on as part of the Chinese Culture year?