132 tiny dancers from Little Companion Art Troupe performing at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Shanghai Expo.
These young dancers are from the CWI (China Welfare Institute) Children's Palace Little Companion Art Troupe. Having been to France in 2002 to perform during the bidding to host the 2010 World Expo, the children's role as young hosts of the Shanghai Expo seemed all the more appropriate.
The Shanghai Expo Organizing Committee has booked the Little Companion Art Troupe -- the sole non-professional troupe appearing at the expo -- to perform 17 self-choreographed productions at 11 venues, including the Cultural Square. They will also perform with a troupe of American children at the U.S.A. Pavilion.
Chinese Child Ambassadors
The 800-member CWI Children's Palace Little Companion Art Troupe is the first of its kind in Shanghai, and is also China's most famous children's art troupe. Founded in 1955 by Soong Ching Ling (Mme. Sun Yat-sen), honorary president of the People's Republic of China, it includes seven companies where children are trained in singing, dancing, musical instruments, acting, folk theatrical arts, calligraphy, painting and handicrafts.
|132 tiny dancers from Little Companion Art Troupe performing at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Shanghai Expo.|
The Little Companion Art Troupe has performed for more than 60 heads of state and leading statesmen, and made 60 tours of 30 or more countries and regions, such as the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan. It has performed on gala occasions such as the Beijing Olympic Games, the APEC Summit, the Shanghai Special Olympic Games, the Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank, and the SCO Summit Meeting.
"Delegates at the 2001 APEC Summit Meeting in Shanghai held heated debates, but watching the Little Companion Art Troupe perform seemed to melt the hearts of even such political heavyweights as US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin," said Chen Baihua, director of the CWI Children's Palace and president of the Little Companion Art Troupe.
These children's smiles time and again melt the hearts of international audiences, earning them the epithet "Chinese child ambassadors." The Chinese ambassador to the US commented in a letter to Shanghai that the children's performances in the United States received a far warmer reception than his 20-odd lectures on China.
In 2008 the Little Companion Art Troupe became the first Chinese troupe to win the US annual Coming Up Taller Award.
In 2007, the US President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities sent a delegation to China that saw performances by the Little Companion Art Troupe. They acknowledged the educational concepts of "inspiring children's creativity and shaping their positive philosophy through education in the arts and humanities" and "aiding the poor and helping the needed." They commended the educational achievements and expressed the belief that these principles could have an enlightening effect within children's artistic education in the United States. On January 28, 2008, then first lady Laura Bush presented awards to Chen Baihua and the children's representative.