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Beijing Int´l Dance Festival opens
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A group of sworn sisters swap tales of their joys and sorrows through a mysterious language that they embroidered on their handkerchiefs and fans.

The first Beijing International Dance Festival raised its curtain on Friday at the Tianqiao Theater in downtown Beijing. The opening performance was called "Her Story", and was presented by the Hong Kong City Contemporary Dance Company.

The opening scene is set in Jiangyong County in Hunan Province in southern China, several hundred years ago. A group of sworn sisters swap tales of their joys and sorrows through a mysterious language that they embroidered on their handkerchiefs and fans.

The ancient language is called Nv Shu, or Women's Writing, an age-old written language that has passed on from one generation of women to the next in Jiangyong County. In feudal times, when Chinese women had little chance to go to school, they invented Nv Shu as a means of communicating with their sisters about the oppression of their abused lives, and the isolation of arranged marriages.

The second scene makes a radical switch, bringing audiences back to modern day China. Female performers danced freely to the beat of Patricia Barber's rendition of The Doors' signature hit "Light My Fire".

The performance by artists from Hong Kong's City Contemporary Dance Company seemed to succeed in making a subtle comparison between the two disparate generations. Their dexterous movements and impressive body language combined to render the piece with grace and ease.

Helen Lai, principal choreographer of HK City Contemporary Dance Company, said, "I want to reveal the subtle shades of the feelings of women, no matter whether it's those in the past or the present. Nowadays women still feel the oppressions of routine existence, and pursue self-emancipation and liberation."

The piece was choreographed by Helen Lai, and it was honored at the 2007 Hong Kong Dance Awards.

Over the next two weeks, dance enthusiasts in the capital will be able to enjoy six shows by dance troupes from near and far, including the Battery Dance Company from the United States, the Staatstheater Braunschweig from Germany, China's Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the Beijing LDTX Modern Dance Company and the Central Ballet Theater.

(CCTV May 12,2008)

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