Shenzhen-made dance drama a hit in Beijing

Writer: Windy Shao  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-04-10

Dance drama “Wing Chun” made a big splash in Beijing as it was staged at the Beijing National Grand Theater from Friday to yesterday, Live Shenzhen reported.

It was produced by the Publicity Department of the Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the CPC and the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Tourism and Sports. It was created and performed by Shenzhen Opera and Dance Theater (SZODT).

Audience are attracted by dance drama “Wing Chun” during its debut at the Beijing National Grand Theater on Friday. Li Tianyi

The dance drama was jointly funded by the National Art Fund, Guangdong Provincial Special Support Fund for Literary and Art Excellence (Literary and Art Talents), and the Shenzhen Municipal Publicity and Culture Fund.

It combines two national cultural heritages, Wing Chun, a Chinese martial art known for its close-range combat techniques and efficient use of energy, and Xiang Yun Sha Silk, which is the only silk fabric dyed with pure vegetable dyes in the world. The show is meant to promote traditional Cantonese culture and pay tribute to the common folks who work hard, uphold justice and dream big.

The drama integrates national intangible cultural heritages and Lingnan folk culture, promoting the creative transformation and innovative development of the two cultural heritage projects, linking tradition and modernity, and setting a new benchmark for Shenzhen dance dramas, the report said.

“My feeling after watching this drama is just one word: shock,” said Song Guanlin, director of the National Art Foundation and vice chairman of the China Cultural Management Association.

“It showcases a history of progress for a person, a region, a city, and even a nation. I want to pay tribute to Shenzhen. In the early stages of reform and opening up, the people of Shenzhen showed their pioneering spirit. In the new era, this dance drama showed Shenzheners’ confidence in their pursuit of the arts,” Song said.

A poster of “Wing Chun.” Courtesy of Live Shenzhen

While many Chinese movies and TV shows have told stories of Ip Man (1893-1972), a kung fu master born in Nanhai, Guangdong Province, this dance drama made in Shenzhen approaches its subject in a new way.

Ip was a Hong Kong-based grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun.

He had several students who later became martial arts masters, the most famous among them being Bruce Lee.

Feng Shuangbai, chairman of the Chinese Dancers Association who penned the show’s script, said he hopes the audience will be inspired by Ip’s story, because everyone can chase their own dreams and be their own hero as long as they are willing to give it a try.

In order to highlight the charm of Chinese martial arts and keep a balance between martial arts and elegant dance movements, young actors from Shenzhen have put in a lot of hard work.

Chang Hongji, one of the leading dancers of the SZODT, plays the role of Ip, and other top SZODT dancers also took lead in the show, acting as young people who live in a different time and space (possibly modern times) and somehow miraculously travel back to meet the master and get involved in his life. Chang spends more than six hours practicing Wing Chun and four hours practicing dance movements every day.

Yin Qing, vice chairman of the China Music Association and a national first-class composer, thought highly of the dance drama’s theme, saying it demonstrates the profound and self-improvement spirit of Chinese martial arts culture. “The dance movements perfectly align with the plot, showcasing the culture of southern China,” Yin said. 

Crew members of Wing Chun take a curtain call at the National Grand Theater in Beijing on Friday. Li Tianyi