Chinese folk legend Liu Sanjie gets modern dance makeover

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Dance drama Liu Sanjie incorporates modern dance styles to present antagonists in a comical way. [Photo provided to China Daily]

These modern dance styles also make it possible to present the antagonists in a comical way, adding humor to the dance drama.

The portrayal of Liu Sanjie is also built on a modern interpretation. Rather than deifying this role, the show's creators preferred to present a character who is no different to ordinary people.

According to Ding, in this production, Liu is an independent woman who supports herself by picking tea, weaving nets and cutting wood, and, like the youth of today, she longs for love and cannot stand injustice.

The new show's playwright, Feng Shuangbai, says that such a new interpretation is in accordance with the changing era and fits the values of the younger generation.

The protagonist is portrayed by young dancer Wang Qian, who says that she put a lot of effort into researching and presenting the character: "Apart from the director's guidance, I watched the original film repeatedly to imitate the film actor's demeanor and gestures, before later adding my own interpretation.

"Presenting this folk singer only through dance is quite a challenge, so I have to exaggerate and vary my body language and my expressions to convey my emotions to the audience," Wang adds.

Huang Wanqiu, the original actress who portrayed the titular character in the film Liu Sanjie, is working on the production as an artistic consultant, and she acknowledges it as "a treasure of China's dance drama".

"The cast are using their creative dance styles to portray the charm and spirit of Liu Sanjie, and I feel each character is very accurately and vividly presented," Huang says.

Since its debut in Guangxi in September 2018, the dance drama has been performed at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

Huang says she is happy that the dance drama is bringing Liu Sanjie and Guangxi folk culture to a bigger stage: "The story of Liu Sanjie has conveyed optimism, truthfulness, compassion and beauty to a lot of people through folk songs. I think she embodies the cultural confidence of Guangxi, and even China."

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