The Kennedy Center Hosts the U.S. Premiere of Qingming Riverside Dance Drama Ensemble

By Punch Correspondent Attie Poirier

A girlfriend and I recently had a cold, dreary January day enlivened and uplifted by a trip to ancient China. Our mode of transportation was a poetic dance performance inspired by an ancient scoll painting, Qingming Riverside Dance Drama Ensemble, making its U.S. debut at The Kennedy Center (although we must gratefully credit a shuttle bus from Foggy Bottom with a beautifully timed assist).

Director, choreographer, and artistic director Leung Kwok-shing drew from three main sections of the artwork—the countryside, the riverside, and the city streets—to create the whimsical narrative that unfolds as the painter travels through the scroll’s scenes. Classical ballet, modern dance and acrobatic elements animate scenes of friendly swordplay and hard labor on the riverbank. The oft-depicted modest and innocent flirtations between men and women is sweetly portrayed amid umbrellas shielding lovers from spring rains. Highly emotive strums on the erhu permeate throughout the performance, which leaves the audience with the feeling of being truly transported to another time and place, despite being remarkably welcoming and relatable to the modern audience.

“By reworking traditional dance with modern performance techniques, the dance drama is a continuation of Chinese dance culture,” says Kwok-shing of the performance. “At the same time, it expresses the subdued elegance and humanity of Song dynasty culture. A sense of poetry permeates through the work.”

About Attie Poirier:
As a Punch Correspondent, Attie contributes stories from the local philanthropic, cultural, foodie and and professional scenes. She always enjoyed visiting family in the D.C. area while moving around as a kid, and decided to make D.C. her home after graduating from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Attie works as a management consultant at a federal government agency and likes dedicating some free time to giving time back to the dynamic D.C. community that she loves. When not working or volunteering, she can often be found playing or refereeing community sports or enjoying good food and great wine in the company of friends and family. She is a travel, photography and art enthusiast who loves to learn what makes others tick. Follow her on Twitter at @attiep21.
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