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Dance between the lines

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-08 10:57

Dance between the lines

Nine Songs, a production by Asia's foremost dance company Cloud Gate, is a poetic tribute to those we should hold in reverence. Photo provided to China Daily

Yet, within this true-to-life frame, the action is nothing but abstract.

Of course, the lotus carries rich layers of symbolic meanings in Chinese culture. It denotes purity and integrity though rooted in watery mud. It is also a homonym for harmony and unity as well as a Buddhist avatar for rebirth. Visually, it is emblematic of tranquility and nobility.

Dance between the lines

The predominant image from the shamanist rituals is a naked man wearing a mask. He moves in slow and exaggerated motions. On the other hand, the few modern men - one dressed in suit and carrying a suitcase - walk briskly, some even on rollerblades. Their bodies are fully clad, yet their faces are not covered. Both ancient and modern people are somewhat aloof, but it's easy to see the former are closer to the nature that surrounds them.

It is also fascinating that some of the ancient rituals are quite orgiastic, suggestive of a merge of physical and spiritual pursuits. The movements are indecipherable yet mesmerizing. And the music from India, Japan, Java, Tibet and other parts of China, as well as the sound effects, are haunting. They at once point backwards and upwards - to a state of mind where one is in touch with not just a higher being, but with nature and with oneself.

The final scene of 800 lanterns forming a meandering river of lights is a poetic memorial to all those lives gone but not forgotten.

Nine Songs was created in 1993 for the 20th anniversary of the founding of Cloud Gate, now Asia's foremost dance company.

Recently, three shows were given in Beijing to an enthusiastic reception. It will continue its tour to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chong-qing and will be expanded to European cities including London and Moscow.

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