The Wind from Dunhuang:Gusty Pleasure for Asmara Audience
A beautiful oriental concert had left a deep impression on me back in 2008 when a group of artists from Fujian province in China performed at the Cinema Odeon. Back then, I remember sitting engrossed the whole evening, stupefied by the spectacular show of both vocal and acrobatic performances.
This past weekend, I had an encore of that thrilling experience thanks to a performance of the Gansu Arts Troupe from China, which entertained a full house audience at Cinema Roma Sunday evening September 11, 2011.
Entitled "The Wind from Dunhuang," the spectacle consisted of a 13-piece repertoire that kept guests electrified for over two hours.
The show opened with a drum dance, "Raise Your Bridal Veil," which is performed with humorous dancing language as the performers show vividly their love for modern life to create a nice homeland. The highly precise and coordinated dance moves make you just stare in awe.
Dressed in a glimmering pink evening dress Ma Yuan followed with a solo performance of the song "A Glass of Good Wine," earning a great round of applause from the audience.
The third piece saw a group of female dancers on the stage, performing "The Love Song of Kangding," one of China’s folk songs. The bright colors of the dancers’ outfits combined with the lively music beats and highly flexible choreography, gave the audience an immensely exhilarating experience.
The fourth piece, and one of my personal favorites, was the Matouqin performance. Being an avid lover of string instruments, I was mesmerized by the sound emanating from that wooden trapezoid box and its two strings.
The Matouqin, which produces a sound poetically described as expansive and unrestrained, like a wild horse neighing, or like a breeze in the grasslands, is held nearly upright with the sound box in the musician's lap or between the musician's legs.
Aerbin Dalai, the player, who has been playing the Matouqin for 20 years, delivered an astounding performance playing two pieces. In "Sing a Spring Song in Pasture," the player started with a slow beat and did a beautiful crescendo while his performance of "A Thousand Horses are Galloping Ahead" literally had our hearts galloping. Aerbin won great admiration from the audience that night.
But a far greater admiration went to Dong Kang, who performed the unique skill of changing faces featured in Sichuan Opera.
One of China's oldest and most popular opera forms, Sichuan opera is characterized by unique stunts one of which is face changing.
It was simply amazing how Dong changed his face mask in split seconds, sometimes in rapid succession. The only indication that a mask change is about to take place is when the actor raises his sleeve or flicks his head to a side to the beat of music.
I was sitting very close to the actor as he did his performance but I really couldn't see how he managed to pull it off. It probably demands many careful observations but nonetheless, it was a very entertaining part of the show.
Dong Kang had also a solo performance where he sang a song entitled Zhuoma. After his performance, Dong was joined on stage by Madame Lou, the wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea, and a group of students from Fre Selam Elementary and Junior Public School whom she trained to sing a short song in Chinese.
Madame Lou and Dong also performed Saba Sabina, a well-known Tigrigna love song. Accompanied with an enthusiastic applause from the audience, they gave their own rendition of the song.
The evening’s repertoire also included a male and female group dances, performing the "Happy Tibetans" and "The Green Peacock" respectively. In the latter, the girls dance in a graceful and flexible manner, like peacocks in the green woods contending for their beauty.
"Happy Tibetans" is performed with a lot of feet stomping and excellent choreography, with the accompanying loud sound of music stirring up captivating feelings among the audience.
The entertaining piece on visual shock by illusionist Zhu Xiquan was among the most favorite pieces of the night. It was utterly unbelievable how he pulled off his tricks. He held a piece of cloth at the two extremities and wrapped it around the mike stand, and somehow made the cloth appear before the stand as if it passed through it. He did the trick quite several times and closer to the audience, but it still eluded us how.
The dance featuring the "The Goddess of Mercy with Thousand Hands" was also among the performances that evening. The dance tells the story of the goddess as she displays her motherly love, warmth and kindness. The underlying message is the need for compassion to watch for, and responds to, the people in the world who cry out for help.
The show culminated with a group dance of all the dancers performing "Civil Wind." The description gi ven in the show program describes the dance as representative of the holy language brewed by the spiritual paradise of lofty mountains and flowing water.
Then Zhu Xiquan and Dong Kang made an impressive act of illusion by combining two pieces of cloth and later forming a banner that read "Friends, Partners, Brothers."
"The melody was simply wonderful and well organized. Everything is alive in my head, I wish more similar events could be organized in the future so as to give us more insights to Chinese culture," says Abraham Solomon, who like me, has been engrossed at the show the whole evening.
Daniel Kidane, who is into music himself, said that she never attended any similar shows before but was really impressed by the performance.
"As Eritreans, we can learn a lot from it," he said.
At the end of the show, all performers were joined on stage by Mr. Romadan Mohammed Nur, Mr. Kahsay Ghberehiwet (Governor of the Central Region), Mr. Yemane Ghebremeskel (Director of the Office of the President), Mr. Zemihret Yohannes (Director of Research and Documentation at the PFDJ) and higher government officials for a group photo.
The Performance of China Gansu Arts Troupe, which gave a repeat also Monday evening September 11, 2011, was sponsored by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in collaboration with the PFDJ Bureau of Cultural Affairs.
The China Gansu Arts Troupe is made up of excellent young dancers and solo performers from Lanzhou Ensemble of Song and Dance, a large scale professional group in Lanzhou, the capital of northwest China's Gansu Province. It is currently on a musical journey to several African countries and has already performed in Kenya. It’s scheduled to appear in South Africa following its Eritrean performance.
Last Updated (Friday, 23 September 2011 15:23)