Dance drama 'Confucius' wins applause in Serbia

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As soon as they returned to the stage after performing a one-and-half hour drama featuring ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, the Chinese dancers received thunderous applause and cheers from the audience, and the ovation lasted almost 10 minutes.

The Sunday night performance at Belgrade's Sava Center by China's National Opera and Dance Drama Theater attracted some 3,000 audiences, with many saying they were deeply impressed by the show.

While some viewers said they most enjoyed the dancers' graceful movements and their costumes, others praised the stage setting and lighting effects as fantastic. And still some admitted they were attracted by the moral points in the story of Confucius.

"For me this was interesting, as it was a world class performance. The production was great, but I've never watched Chinese dance before. All in all, a great spectacle," a spectator named Gorica Mihajlovic said.

A 26-year-old student identified himself as Nemanja Mares said he mostly admired the skills of the Chinese dancers. "I am interested in dancing and watched the show with enthusiasm. I think the dance choreographies in this play were excellent. The dance group is phenomenal and it looks really good on stage," Mares explained.

Among the audience, many were first-time viewers of Chinese dance. A woman named Gordana Vucic was one of them. "This is completely different from the theater and ballet performances I am used to -- especially movements, music. The general impression for me is a surprise, as I did not have contact before with Chinese culture. I liked it very much," Vucic said.

Stefan Stanisavljevic and Olivera Popovic, students of Chinese language at the Belgrade University, also watched the show. They said it helped them understand the Chinese culture better.

"It's the first time that we have watched such a play. It's perfect. The play draws us into Confucius' time. We are impressed by the singing and dancing, as well as the whole story, especially his dream," Stanisavljevic said.

The performance also generated positive comments from veteran dance art observers.

For Aja Jung, the organizer of Sunday's performance, said this show was a unique experience and a way to bring the Chinese culture closer to the Serbian people.

"It is really something of exceptional quality. The show received great reviews everywhere it appeared. You cannot find a performance like this on an everyday basis," she said.

Serbian audience is very familiar with the story of Confucius as it is a part of basic high school education, but this play presented it in a new way -- through a combination of history, dancing, acrobatics, acting -- "a fusion of many, if not all performing arts," said Jung.

Jung, also the director of the Belgrade Dance Festival, the biggest in the region and one of Europe's most important, said that so far a few Chinese dance troupes including the Beijing Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts have performed at the festival. Next year Tao Ye Dance Theater from Beijing will perform during the event.

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