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Hong Kong dance company recruits youth in NYC

By Niu Yue in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-02-06 11:28

A dance company from Hong Kong is now recruiting New York children for its grand dance drama in New York next month.

The Hong Kong Dance Company will perform the Legend of Mulan, based on a well-known Chinese poem The Ballad of Mulan from March 5-8. It tells the story of a woman, Hua Mulan, who dressed as a man and joined the army so her elderly father wouldn't be drafted.

The female warrior won praise from the emperor for her bravery in the patriarchal country, but she declined any compensation and decided to return to her family.

The poem, written more than 1,500 years ago, is one of China's earliest poems about gender equality, and the story was adapted to a Disney film Mulan in 1998 and became world famous.

During the performance, about 30 children from New York are to recite the poem under the guidance of a teacher on the stage on March 8. They also will get a back stage tour of Lincoln Center and a lesson in classical Chinese dance.

"The Ballad of Mulan is widely taught in primary and middle school in the Chinese-speaking world; basically everybody can recite it," said Zhao Binghao, who is in charge of the recruitment. "And since the emerging fever of Mandarin is worldwide, I even believe it's not a problem at all to find American children who can recite The Ballad of Mulan using Mandarin."

All children with an interest in Chinese traditional culture and Chinese-language proficiency are welcome, and Zhao is now talking with a dual-language school in New York for cooperation, although he declined to offer details.

"We have done this as a prelude before during our performances in Hong Kong, and it has been fantastic," said Zhao. "So, we would love to continue this tradition in North America as well."

The performance is the fourth of a female-themed series of performances brought to Lincoln Center by China Arts and Entertainment Group, an entertainment company entrusted by China's Ministry of Culture.

Before the Legend of Mulan, Peony Pavilion, Flower Rains along Silk Road and The Red Dress already have amazed American audiences with their depictions of female psychology and Chinese traditional culture.

The Legend of Mulan is expected to continue the sensation by combining Chinese classical dance and modern music arrangements.

"It is one of the most difficult roles I have ever dealt with," said Pan Lingjuan, the lead dancer who plays Hua Mulan. "At first, I have to act as a girl who is spinning and weaving at home; meanwhile, I have to act as a man who is battling on cold nights."

To recreate the battle, several scenes will be performed on a slope built on the stage, posing significant difficulties for performers.

Lu Huiquan and Hong Xiao in New York contributed to this report.

 Hong Kong dance company recruits youth in NYC

The Legend of Mulan is to be performed at Lincoln Center from March 5 to 8 at Lincoln Center in New York. Provided to China Daily

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