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Spanish Culture Center Opens in Beijing
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A series of activities including shows, exhibitions and workshops have been planned to commemorate today's opening of the first China branch of the Institute Cervantes. The week-long celebration will give Beijingers a chance to experience Spanish culture.

Crown Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias and heir apparent to the Spanish throne, and his wife, Princess Letizia, graced this morning's opening ceremony which featured a performance by leading contemporary dance company Gelabert & Azzopardi from Barcelona at the Poly Theater.

The Beijing branch of the Institute Cervantes is its 58th in the world and will also serve as the Culture Center of Spain in China.

"Young Chinese people's interest in Spain and Spanish culture increased greatly. 10 years ago, China had only 10 universities with Spanish departments. That number has doubled now," according to Inmaculada Gonzalez Puy, director of the Beijing Institute Cervantes.

"We hope the Beijing Institute Cervantes could work as a bridge between the Chinese people and Spain and offer them more chances to learn Spanish language, culture and arts," she said.

The center will offer four levels of Spanish language courses and organize regular cultural events such as exhibitions, film-showings, workshops, seminars and theater performances. It will also offer online classes to Chinese students majoring in Spanish.

Celebratory events, organized by the Institute Cervantes and the Spanish Embassy in China, include a double-bill dance performance, Psitt! Psitt! and Viene Regando Flores Desde Habana a Moron.

Psitt! Psitt!, with a piano and orchestral score composed by Pascal Comelade, is a special tribute to Erik Satie (1866-1925), the eccentric Impressionist French composer. Choreographer Cesc Gelabert commissioned Comelade to compose the music and offered him 21 of Satie's annotations as a source of inspiration.

Viene Regando Flores Desde Habana a Moron offers an elated and dynamic performance to the rhythm of live Cuban music performed by four outstanding musicians. In 40 minutes, the dancers perform Rumbas, Boleros and Son with panache, style and wit.

Gelabert, originally from Barcelona, is a pioneer of contemporary dance in Spain and currently one of the most influential Spanish choreographers and dancers. He studied both dance and architecture and embraces different interests in his work, from video and theatre to cinema and cabaret.

His first choreography dates back to 1972. The following year, he produced his first solo performance. By the end of the 1970s, he was an active member of the New York art scene.

In 1980, Gelabert met the British dancer Lydia Azzopardi, who studied at the London Contemporary Dance School, and they combined their versatile personalities into choreography. Five years later, they founded the Gelabert & Azzopardi Dance Company.

The two-man Spanish band Dwomo, composed of Jorge Loran Martin-Fabiani and Antonio J. Iglesias Zurita, will give concert at Yugong Yishan club tomorrow night. The band will also collaborate with the Chinese band Hanggai, which specializes in Mongolian music, on Sunday night at the Beijing Institute Cervantes.

A free exhibition introducing Spain's 16 contemporary art museums is scheduled to open at the center until October 15. Directors and curators from the 16 museums and their Chinese counterparts will have a meeting tomorrow afternoon. Some video works collected in the 16 museums will be shown from July 19.

In addition, Spanish photographer Angel Marcos will present his solo exhibition, "Plaza Mayor: Space and Presentation" at the center from July 18 to August 15.

Beijing branch of the Institute Cervantes

(China Daily July 14, 2006)

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