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Chinese arts festival opens in London

Reporter: Richard Bestic 丨 CCTV.com

12-19-2016 18:09 BJT

A major new festival celebrating China's changing arts scene has opened at the Southbank Centre in London. The festival features some of China's most famous acts, but there's room too for some unknowns to take centre stage. Richard Bestic reports.

A major new festival celebrating China

A major new festival celebrating China's changing arts scene has opened at the Southbank Centre in London.

Striking up a storm, the music of the Padoga Chinese Youth Orchestra, both Europe's oldest and indeed largest Chinese orchestra.

Based in Liverpool, the home of the Beatles, their hometown boasts a Chinese community dating back 200 years. Most of these youngsters born in the UK, but keeping in tune with their artistic roots.

Sharing Chinese art forms with an audience in the UK capital, a matter of delight, says the orchestra's director Michelle Zi Lan: 

"Our kids were so excited to come and perform in London. They were just like, the parents told they couldn’t sleep the night before. They were all excited, coming over and yeah it is a big thing, its amazed them because, look it’s the Southbank, the biggest art centre in England," said Michelle Zi Lan, Director of Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra.

From enthusiastic amateurs to the elite of the arts world, the festival also brought together some of the biggest names in Chinese art.

The Hong Kong Dance company, bringing to the UK capital their own contemporary approach to Chinese dancing, a mix of martial arts, tai chi techniques and traditional Chinese folk dancing.

For the Southbank’s creative producer, Rachel Harris, it’s an artistic fusion of East and West that she wants the Changing China Festival to typify.

"Well that’s precisely what this festival is addressing and its going to be a work in progress. We are engaged in this kind of cultural conversation about how we can show or start to reveal to people the many ways we are in fact linked across the continents and one of the great successful ways to do that is asking artists to have dialogue with each other," said Rachel Harris, Producer of Southbank Centre Creative.

A major new festival celebrating China

A major new festival celebrating China's changing arts scene has opened at the Southbank Centre in London.

Dance was again the medium to remember 140,000 Chinese workers who were involved on the side of the allies during the First World War 100 years ago.

The men were signed up in China by the British and French to join the Chinese Labour Corps and work on the Western Front, the main theatre of war during four years of carnage.

Their contribution all but forgotten by history… finally remembered in drama and dance.

So, if the festival is in part about the fusion of European and Chinese artistic traditions, try this one: Hamlet, performed in the style of the Beijing opera in Mandarin here in London.

From a Chinese view of Shakespeare to the view of China from those born in Britain, the Changing China Festival highlighted many more of the ties that bind across the centuries and around the world.

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