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Female dancers practice their choreography on stage without their male counterparts. Zou Hong / China Daily
Henryk Gorecki, the late Polish composer, has brought two artistic directors from thousand of miles apart together in China.
Li Hanzhong of Beijing LDTX Dance and Janis Claxton of the Janis Claxton Dance from Scotland, UK, will join forces to present Songs for the opening of the 2012 Beijing Dance Festival. The event is on July 22 at the People's Liberation Army Theater.
Both Li and Claxton have idolized Gorecki for a long time and their common interest got them connected. Now they are paying tribute to their idol, who passed away in 2010.
Gorecki's early avant-garde style gave way to more approachable works rooted in his country's folk songs and sacred music. His Symphony No 3 sold more than a million copies on CD in the 1990s.
Drawing inspiration from the music of Gorecki, Songs is a three-part dance show, which will feature Janis Claxton Dance's seminal dance work, Songs Are Sung, set to Gorecki's String Quartet No 3.
The show features two new works - Song of Change by Claxton, set to a selection of Gorecki's short piano solos taken from his Piano Sonata No 1, and Sorrowful Song by Li from LDTX and the company's dancer/choreographer Ma Bo.
Audiences will see how dancers from the two companies explore the dynamics of loss, grief, and isolation and the rallying of support.
"The composer never talks about the ideas behind his music because he wanted listeners to feel it themselves," says Claxton, who founded the award-winning dance company in 2005 in Edinburgh. "The show also reflects the intensity and changes of China and the rest of the world."
Her new work, Song of Change, is an abstract dance with fiery and quick moves, featuring three female dancers from Janis Claxton and three male dancers from LDTX.
"Before we came to China, our dancers practiced without their male partners but with their imaginations. When we got here, the six dancers from two countries very quickly were immersed into the deep, slow and dramatic music," she shares.
This is not the first time Claxton is in China.
She visited China in June 2009 for the first time and collaborated with Beijing Da Dao Live Art Festival, where seven performers laid inside enclosures on the floor of 798 Space, a large gallery located in Beijing's 798 Art Zone, for two hours while gallery visitors walked past them and observed their behavior.