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Shanghai Int'l Arts Festival kicks off
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The 10th China Shanghai International Arts Festival opened Saturday at the Shanghai Grand Theatre with the spectacular dance drama "The Peony Pavilion". The performance kicked off a series of artistic events and concerts will run on major stages and at residential communities throughout the city.

Dancers rehearse the dance drama "The Peony Pavilion" at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on October 17, 2008. [CRIENGLISH.com]

Local government officials delivered their greetings in speeches to audience members from at home and abroad at a brief opening ceremony before the start of the show.

The dance drama was adapted from the classic Chinese play of the same name written by dramatist Tang Xianzu during the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644). It is an example of Kunqu opera, a traditional Chinese opera form that originated in Suzhou in the southeastern part of the country.

But the festival's presentation of "The Peony Pavilion" undoubtedly challenged the Kunqu version with its melodious music, dazzling stage lights, picturesque settings, glamorous costumes and props, and especially the vivid moves of the young and talented dancers who interpreted the romantic story through traditional Chinese dance in a touching and heartfelt way.

The original script of "The Peony Pavilion" tells about a love story between Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei, who have romantic encounters, are separated by death, and finally break the boundaries of life and death with a happy ending.

When the dreamlike dance production ended, it threw the audience into an emotional climax.

When asked about her feelings about the dance drama, a German tourist who attended the performance, said it was "absolutely great … unbelievable. We really enjoyed it."

As a highlight of the festival, the all- Chinese production of "The Peony Palace" dance drama will be performed again on Sunday along with other performances by artists from all over the world.

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