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Solo dance in darkness: retelling Xuan Zang's legendary journey

By Li Hongrui (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-12-17 16:32 Comments

Solo dance in darkness: retelling Xuan Zang's legendary journey

A shot of the dancer in "Restart the Journey" at the Baoli Theater on Dec 15, 2015. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Speaking of "Xuan Zang", he is more popularly known as the Tang Priest. Due to the wide readership and popularity of The Journey to the West, one of the four Chinese literature classics, the story of Tang Priest and his three apprentices is well known among Chinese people. But the most charming character is not Xuan Zang, but his apprentice the Monkey King. The rebellious and brave Monkey King often appears as a hero. In contrast, Xuan Zang is often depicted as weak, soft and cowardly either in the original work or the film and TV adaptations.

In fact, on his way to India, Xuan Zang had no helpers like the Monkey King, but only a strong belief to bring real Buddhist texts back to China. He passed through rain and wind, faced unaccountable difficulties and dangers, walked on the edge of death, and eventually arrived in India. It is Xuan Zang who used about three hundreds Chinese characters to translate the "Heart Sutra", one of the best-known and most popular Buddhist scriptures.

The choreographer and director of the dance Zhao Xiaogang tried to have the dancer present the real Xuan Zang and his arduous journey through body language. At the end of the dance, a tree was let down from the ceiling and was kept above the stage where the dancer once meditated, symbolizing that Xuan Zang's spirit has become an icon of Chinese culture, which is evergreen in spite of countless difficulties and dangers.

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