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Disabled Dance Troupe Condemns Copycats

The China Disabled Person's Performing Art Troupe yesterday moved to stop other performers and a clothing company stealing its ideas.


The subject of the legal action is the Thousand-hand Guanyin, or Goddess of Mercy dance, which is performed by deaf members of the troupe.


The performance, one piece of "My Dream" dance, gained popularity after it was performed as part of China Central Television's Spring Festival Eve Variety Show on February 8. Following their TV appearance, the troupe says it has found five other dance troupes in Beijing, Fujian, Hebei and Hubei staging dance programs it believes have been copied from its own.


At the same time, Gracewell, a leading Chinese underwear maker, is applying for a patent for its stocking packaging design, which features an Indian woman in a pose similar to that struck by the troupe's dancers.


Wang Yuan, the troupe's artistic supervisor, accused the underwear company of "trampling the culture of Guanyin and smirching noble feelings of the Chinese."


Meanwhile, Gao Jinrong, a choreographer and former professor at Gansu Art School, claims the idea for the dance comes from her own piece, which was performed as long ago as 1998. The former professor has said she plans to sue the program's choreographer Zhang Jigang for copying her ideas.


Zhang defended himself against the accusation saying he was inspired to create the dance by the thousand-hand Guanyin, a Buddhist image, and adapted the pose for dancers.


Jia Zuoguang, honorary chairman of China Dancers' Association, along with three other dancing artists and scholars, endorsed Zhang Jigang's program at the press conference. They spoke highly of the dance and said there was a distinct difference between Zhang and Gao's works.


China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe was established in September 1987, and was originally an amateur group until May 2002, when it became a professional organization affiliated with China Disabled Persons' Federation. Since then it has been performing throughout China and abroad.


According to Wang Jing, director of the troupe's Performance Department, the troupe made 10 million yuan (US$1.21 million) last year.

(China Daily April 7, 2005)

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