|Modern dance 'Men's Dance for Women' [Shanghai Daily]
For a whole month beginning on October 18, the city will be overwhelmed by a bounty of arts - "Arts to Light Up the Heart" - on offer in the 11th Shanghai International Art Festival.
It will feature classical ballet, dance, music, opera, drama, art exhibitions, Colombian gold, puppets, magic and a youth piano competition, as well as traditional Chinese arts and performances.
The festival presents 55 stage performances alone, 28 from abroad, 27 from China.
The opening shows on October 18 will be the ballet "Cinderella" by Les Ballets de Monte Carlo from Monaco and the original Chinese ethnic dance drama "Wang Zhaojun" about a legendary political bride who marries a barbarian prince for the sake of stability.
"We are trying our best to make this one of the best art festivals in the world," says Chen Shenglai, director of the festival.
The opening ballet "Cinderella" will have its China premiere at the festival. Created in 1999 by Jean-Christophe Maillot, it emphasizes aesthetics and the music itself, making it a notable example of neoclassic ballet.
In the ballet, it is Cinderella's foot, rather than the glass slipper, that is a structural element of the tale - and is shown throughout under a special light, giving it a magical quality as a symbol of humility. The ballerina draws strength from this foot.
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, founded in 1911, became the official company of the Principality of Monaco in 1985. Maillot's other masterpieces include "Romeo and Juliet" and "Altro Canto," both in the neoclassical style.
Maillot's newest modern dance, "Men's Dance for Women," will make its worldwide premiere in Shanghai on October 20.
The other opening dance drama "Wang Zhaojun," about a patriotic Chinese beauty, is an original production about an emperor's lady-in-waiting who was willing to marry a Hun prince to bring peace to the Han and the Hun in 33 BC. Based on a true story, it expresses Wang's grief in parting from her homeland in what is today's Hubei Province.
The drama incorporates the romantic Han culture and the heroic Mongolian steppe culture north of the Great Wall.
The solidarity among Chinese ethnic groups is expressed through this story.
The show assembles celebrity talents from around China, including director Men Wenyuan, composer Zhang Qianyi, costume designer Li Ruiding, stage designer Zhang Jiwen and dancer Liu Zhen.
The Ballet Conceirto from Argentina will make its debut in Shanghai on October 28 with "Carmina Burana" and the Argentine tango "The Day An Angel Came to Buenos Aires."
Performances will feature Argentine dancer Inaki Urlezaga, leading ballerinas of the London Royal Ballet and the visiting leading dancer of the Dutch National Ballet.
The troupe will perform renowned tangos, and one professional critic called the dance "an unprecedented way to capture the hearts of the audience."
The distinguished Slovak National Dance Company will make its China debut with the song and dance gala "Julibleum."
Other performances include the modern dance "Tenterhooks" by the Scottish Dance Theater, the opera "La Traviata" by Seoul Metropolitan Opera Company, the Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni Ensemble from the United States, concerts by Stouxingers Ensemble, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie from Germany, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Philips Symphony Orchestra from the Netherlands.
World-famous virtuosos, such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Maksim Mrvica, violinists Edvin Marton and Midori, and guitar masters Tommy Emmanuel and Pepe Romero, will show their expertise and musicality.
At the festival there are also many Chinese dance dramas, operas and other works, some making their premieres. These include the original opera "King of Chu" by the Shanghai Opera House, the ethnic dance drama "Nuo's World" by the Guizhou Song and Dance Troupe, the large-scale ethnic music and dance gala "Qiang Feng" by the Sichuan Qiang Feng Art Ensemble, the ethnic song and dance spectacular "Rainbow over Mt Everest" by the Xigaze Mt Everest Art Troupe of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the original song and dance show "Song of the Chinese Nation" by the Heilongjiang Song and Dance Theater.
In addition to stage performances, the festival will feature art exhibitions, forums and other events, such as the pre-Hispanic gold art of Colombia at the Shanghai Museum; realist painters from the Repin Academy of Fine Arts from Russia; a retrospective of the history of China-Japan drama exchange; a South Korean modern art exhibition and Xie Zhiliu's painting and calligraphy.
The Sixth Shanghai International Magic Festival, the Fifth Shanghai International Youth Piano Contest and the First Shanghai International Puppet Festival & Competition will also be held during the art festival.
For more information, check www.artsbird.com. All that glitters really is gold from Colombia Wang Jie
Glittering gold antiquities from Colombia are exhibited in chilly 20-degree galleries at Shanghai Museum to preserve the malleable masterpieces.
"Gold, Pre-Hispanic Art of Colombia" features 253 mostly gold objects from Colombia's Museo del Oro, the Museum of Gold, of Colombia's Central Bank in Bogota.
Copper, platinum, stone and pottery are also featured.
The artworks were produced between 500 BC and 1500, when the Spanish conquistadors arrived and plundered the land, enslaved its people and melted its gold.
"The pre-Hispanic metalwork of Colombia, one of the most varied, elaborate and complex in ancient America, was the vehicle that depicted visions of life for eternity," says Clara Isabel Botero, director of the Museo del Oro.
The works include masks, breastplates, nose rings, pendants and other jewelry, as well as vessels, many for sacrificial and funerary purposes.
Metal smiths depicted men and women, animals, nature and gods - and combinations of them.
To preserve the objects from bending, the temperature is set at around 20 degrees Celsius. Visitors should bring a sweater.
To the Spanish conquistadors, Latin America was an empire of gold.
It is recorded that metal smiths appeared early in the 7th century BC in Colombia.
Using gold, copper and platinum and a variety of techniques, the smiths explored the metals' plasticity, ductility and malleability, and created a symbolic, iconographic and visual universe of their own.
"Contrary to what we imagine, a large number of these objects from ancient Colombia have a symbolic and religious meaning," says Chen Xiejun, director of Shanghai Museum.
"Rather than being jewelry to enhance individual vanity, they were sacred objects that enshrined the philosophical, religious and cultural principles of a society," he adds.
The highlight of the show is several gold artworks featuring the combination of man and animal into powerful creatures.
"It seems the metal smiths attempted to draw on the powers of the bat, the eagle and feline figures to make human being stronger, swifter and better able to survive," Chen says.
Early in the 16th century, the term "gold men" was used by Spaniards to describe the indigenous people. This was based on the sacrificial practice in which a man wearing a gold mask, pendant, nose ring and other weighty ornaments would jump into a river to appease the spirits.
The splendid metal smithing and culture of gold brought disaster to the people, however, as Europeans went to Colombia in quest of gold and fortunes.
They looted and melted gold artifacts, whether from tombs or sacrificial river beds, and transported bars and ingots back to Spain.
Metal working largely died out.
To prevent the further loss of pre-Hispanic gold work, Colombia's Central Bank founded the Museum of Gold in 1939.
"For 70 years, the museum has been a preserver and disseminator of Colombia's cultural memory," Botero says.
The exhibition is part of the cultural exchange between China and Colombia. Next year the Shanghai Museum will send the Museum of Gold an exhibit of precious objects, "Dragons of the Emperor."
Date: through November 29, 9am-5pm
Address: 201 People's Ave
(Shanghai Daily September 25, 2009)