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Festival Highlights Aussie Culture
Australia is about to take center stage in Shanghai. The 2002 China Shanghai International Arts Festival in November will highlight "Australia Week," a cultural showcase providing a glimpse into contemporary Australia and insight into modern Australian culture.

"The festival offers Australia an opportunity to introduce some of our best music, theatre, visual arts, films, literature, dances and new media," David Irvine, Australian ambassador to China, said.

Irvine arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday to attend the opening conference to introduce the "Australia Week" program.

Australia's involvement in the festival symbolizes the friendship between the two countries, and commemorates the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, Irvine said.

The program -- highlighting the rich diversity of Australia's arts -- involves 200 of Australia's top artists.

Australia was the first country to be invited to the festival as a guest nation, Chen Shenglai, president of the Center for China Shanghai International Arts Festival, said.

"We are extremely grateful to these excellent artists from different fields, and to the Australian Government for giving us the chance to perceive Australian art from multiple dimensions," Chen said.

The program is the largest, and first of its kind, that Australia has held overseas, Sam Gerovich, consul-general of Australia's consulate in Shanghai, said.

The week, entitled "Celebrate Australia 2002," will begin November 10 with a breathtaking "Electronic Big Top" production by Skadada.

Skadada is a unique performance company that combines dances, text, martial arts, aerial dances, interactive elements, puppetry, video and original and electronic sounds.

The Sydney dance company on November 11 will stage "Salome," choreographed by Graeme Murphy, Australia's most celebrated choreographer, at Shanghai's Grand Theatre.

Gerovich believes Murphy's captivating choreography combined with Michael Askill's original, live percussion score and costumes by world-renowned fashion designer Akira Isogowa will create a visual and sensual masterpiece.

Salome is a haunting biblical figure.

Other performances that week will include "All of Me," by Australia's gravity-defying theatre company Legs on the Wall. The show explores the love and hatred inherent in families.

"Spirit Country," an exhibition of contemporary Australian aboriginal art, will also be featured.

"Spirit Country" reflects the bold and resilient cultures of aboriginal communities in Australia's central desert, and features paintings and bark-based artworks by aboriginals on Australia's outlying islands.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will also perform and various Australian documentaries will be screened.

Giant puppets from South Australia, which are rare in Shanghai, will line city streets for nine days.

Live-performance symposia will be held throughout the week.

(China Daily September 13, 2002)

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