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,Â 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 artworkâ€”the countryside, the riverside, and the city streetsâ€”to create the whimsical narrative that unfolds as the painter travels through the scrollâ€™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.
â€œBy reworking traditional dance with modern performance techniques, the dance drama is a continuation of Chinese dance culture,â€ says Kwok-shing of the performance. â€œAt the same time, it expresses the subdued elegance and humanity of Song dynasty culture. A sense of poetry permeates through the work.â€
Attie works at a nonprofit in Washington and enjoys giving time back to the dynamic D.C. community that she loves. Outside of work and volunteering, she is often 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.