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Hong Kong Dance Company brings to life a national treasure painting for Shanghai Expo (with photos)

The Hong Kong Dance Company (HKDC) will bring a historic 12th century painting to life in its epic dance poem "Qingming Riverside" as a highlight of the HKSAR cultural programme for Expo 2010 Shanghai China (Shanghai Expo). The performances on July 9 and 10 will also be part of the Shanghai Grand Theatre Dance Festival.

Choreographed and directed by Mr Leung Kwok-shing, Artistic Director of the HKDC, the dance poem is inspired by the masterpiece "Along the River during the Qingming Festival" (AD 1119-1125) by imperial court painter Zhang Zeduan. The performance features over 100 dancers and creative talents.

Mr Leung said, "The performance makes use of a free style to depict the spirit of the people and adopts the format of a dance poem to express their aspiration toward excellence and the pursuit of cultural creativity."

Script and Research Director, Mr Gerard C C Tsang, said: "The five-metre-long scroll painting reveals in astounding detail the prosperous and bustling street scenes of the Northern Song Dynasty capital Bianjing (now known as Kaifeng in Henan province) built on the River Bian.

"The river scene is set during the Qingming Festival when the waterway reopened after a freezing winter. As shipping and trade resumed the city was revived and officials and residents went about their business and celebrated the coming of spring with song and dance."

The painting itself features about 800 figures from different professions and backgrounds that represent the diversity of the ancient capital's one million inhabitants.

Mr Tsang said, "Beneath the glamour of the metropolis, each man clings onto his dreams, aspirations and ideals, making the dance performance full-blooded, and giving it intellectual and emotional depth."

Each performance will comprise two acts with 18 scenes, including "Canal Willows", "Donkey Riding", "Fish Watching" and "Boat Trackers". These were carefully selected to capture the mood of the scene and clearly express the complexity of the original painting.

"Qingming Riverside" premiered in Hong Kong in 2007 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR. This also coincided with the display of the painting, which is a national treasure, at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The dance poem has so far been performed more than 30 times in Hong Kong and major Mainland cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Guangzhou.

Hailed as "a stage wonder arising from a painting masterpiece", the grand dance poem won the Special Award and First Class Direction Award at the 10th Guangdong Arts Festival and the Hong Kong Dance Award in 2008.

For full programme details and ticketing information, please visit the "event calendar" section on Hong Kong's Expo website, www.hkexpo2010.gov.hk.

"Qingming Riverside"
Date: July 9 and 10, 2010
Time: 7.15pm
Venue: Lyric Theatre, Shanghai Grand Theatre
Length: Approx 2 hours
Ticket price: RMB 380, 280, 180, 100, 50
Online bookings: www.shgtheatre.com
Booking hotline: (+86 21) 6359 8032 / 6372 8702
Programme enquiries
(HK): (+852) 3103 1806
(Shanghai):(+86 21) 6359 8032