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Curtain rises on dance fest and Jin Xing
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Alan Greig, a leading Scottish choreographer, will present "Into the Light" at the Shanghai Dance Festival. [Shanghai Daily]

The Shanghai Dance Festival opens its fourth season tonight with a performance by the Jin Xing Dance Theater in collaboration with the Austrian troupe Liquid Loft.

Five shows will be presented over two weeks by artists from five countries, including Austria, China, Israel, South Korea and the UK (Scotland).

All the shows will be premiering in Shanghai. They will be staged at Eye Level Art and the Shanghai Theater Academy.

Jin Xing, a famous dancer, choreographer, actress and singer, is a former colonel in the People's Liberation Army who underwent much-publicized sex-reassignment surgery in 1996. Her ideas about identity, beauty, transitions and transgressions permeate her art.

"My working attitude and the theme of this dance festival is 'step by step'," says Jin. "I hope the audience can see something new in dance and I hope my dance can touch people."

The opening show, "The China Project," was created in February and was warmly received in Western countries, including Austria.

The performance recreates various zones of transgression, crossing of frontiers and communication conflicts. They touch on gender roles, societal rules and the larger designs of life.

The performance challenges the choreographers, dancers and the audience.  Jin will chat with the audience. "I will talk about society and life," says Jin. "The conflicts between the art of dance and social reality are a big challenge to the audience."

She hopes to make the performance a salon.

The dance festival this year also celebrates Jin Xing Dance Theater's 10th anniversary. It will feature three of Jin's productions and her solo dance performance "So Near and Yet So Far" on October 6-7. Only Jin and a guqin (ancient zither) player are on stage.

The show premiered in 2006 at "Under the Skin," the Fourth International Festival of Contemporary Dance of the Venice Biennale.

The performance opens as a musician walks on stage. She prepares the space by burning incense and proceeding with a washing ritual. She places her traditional Chinese instrument, a seven-stringed guqin, on a table in the center of the stage and begins to play.

Jin herself appears and introduces the guqin, the most revered instrument in Chinese culture.

"I got the inspiration of this dance one day while I was playing the guqin and watching my elder son practice calligraphy," she says.

The performance, with only Jin and the musician on stage, will express peace and tranquillity. The music of guqin was said to link human beings with heavenly forces and it was favored by the emperors.

As emperors used the instrument as "voice," Jin uses her body language to express the connection between earth and sky.

"It will be like a cup of fine tea - people need to taste it with their hearts," says Jin.

On the two days of performance, Jin will introduce the guqin in Chinese on the first day and in English on the second.

The festival will also present "Il Grido" ("The Outcry)" by South Korean dance master Won Kin in collaboration with Jin Xing's company, Israeli choreographer Arkadi Zaides' "Solo Colores" and Scottish choreographer Alan Greig's "Into the Light," considered his masterwork.

"China Project"

Date: September 25-26, 8pm

Venue: Eye Level Art, G101, 570 Huashan Rd W.

Tickets: 200 yuan

"Il Grido" ("The OutCry")

Date: October 2-3, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 150 yuan

"The Closest the Furthest"

Date: October 6-7, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 100-300 yuan

Arkadi Zaides "Solo Colores"

Date: October 10-11, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theatre Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 150 yuan

Alan Greig "Into the Light"

Date: October 10-11, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 150 yuan

Info hotline: 021-6327-0040

Ticket hotline: 021-6327-0578

(Shanghai Daily September 25, 2009)

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