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Chinese dance in Bratislava

SLOVAKIA seems to be opening up more and more to different foreign, and even exotic, cultures. On May 7 and 8, the Shen Yun Performing Arts ensemble from New York brought classical Chinese dance to the Slovak capital after three years, following up a previous visit to Slovakia in 2008.

(Source: Courtesy of Shen Yun Performing Arts, all rights reserved)

SLOVAKIA seems to be opening up more and more to different foreign, and even exotic, cultures. On May 7 and 8, the Shen Yun Performing Arts ensemble from New York brought classical Chinese dance to the Slovak capital after three years, following up a previous visit to Slovakia in 2008.

The Shen Yun ensemble comprises three troupes that usually tour the world simultaneously. Founded in 2006 in New York, it strives to revive and spread ancient Chinese culture, which dates back as much as 5,000 years, combining it with modern visions and influences. The Bratislava show was the final performance of a European tour that lasted for two and a half months.

Shen Yun prepares a completely new programme each year, and this latest one offered both ethnically-inspired music and dance from various regions of China, the traditional dances of ethnic minorities, along with classical Chinese dance accompanied by live music combining Western and traditional Asian instruments. The ensemble’s composers, choreographers and art directors draw inspiration and information for their work from the ancient Chinese culture that has been preserved in detail to this day in literature, paintings and other forms of art, Leeshai Lemish, presenter of the programme, told The Slovak Spectator. He added that the individual pieces are explained and introduced before the start of each performance, so that audiences in Europe and America without any cultural and historical grounding in Chinese dance can understand the plot and the message. Although rich in settings and costumes, the pieces focus on stories and mythology.

Chinese classical dance is a very old art form with specific postures, movements and techniques that might seem to viewers like they are derived from gymnastics and acrobatics. But in fact it is the other way round: classical Chinese dance is older, with a history that goes back thousands of years. The closing part of the European tour, the two performances in the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, were greeted with warm response and prolonged applause.

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