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Guangzhou's dance, drama revolution

Updated: 2012-10-19 09:37
By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

The Alley of the Three Families showcases Guangzhou's culture and history and recently nabbed the Lotus Award, which is one of the country's most prestigious dance honors.

Guangzhou's dance, drama revolution

Audiences can learn about traditional Lingnan architecture from the stage backdrop, which shows the landmark Chen Clan Academy's brick carvings and colored windows.

One scene that embodies local culture shows women dancing in colorful traditional attire while brandishing embroidery works in homage to the festival, which falls on July 7 on the lunar calendar, in which women pray to the Weaving Maid to enhance their needlework.

The Alley of the Three Families is celebrated for its apt use of props.

The traditional tanglong wooden sliding doors of Guangzhou's Xiguan area serve as more than backgrounds. They are incorporated into the choreography, as the heroine sits, leans and swings on the door while courting the hero.

But it isn't only its portrayals of local customs that have led to big audiences for its more than 80 shows since its debut in April, 2011.

Its success also hails from the fact that it's based on the namesake novel written by Ouyang Shan in late 1950s.

The plot delves into the complicated relationships among four youths from different classes as they face the uncertain future of revolution in the 1920s.

"We don't expatiate on the historical background but instead appeal to the universal themes of the pursuit of love and ideals to make the dance drama a timeless classic that can appeal to people of different backgrounds," director Xu Chenghua says.

A shoemaker's daughter falls in love with a blacksmith. Both are active in the protests against foreign invaders. The woman sacrifices her life for the man when foreign soldiers fire on protesters. The blacksmith goes on to join the revolution.

Sun Qiuyue, who plays the heroine, believes today's youth will be touched, even if they know little about the 1920s.

"Many young people are lost about what they believe in and stand for," the 26-year-old says.

Guangzhou's dance, drama revolution

"It's good for them to take inspiration from artworks about revolution, in which they're moved by simple and determined characters their age."

The Alley of the Three Families incorporates modern dance into Guangdong folk dance and includes such Western elements as Tango and a pop theme song - all to enhance youth appeal.

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