Dancers honor a

Wei Shenzhou (left) and Wang Jinge play composer Xian Xinghai and his wife in the dance drama.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The work pays homage to the inspiring co-creator of Cantane of the Yellow River, Chen Nan reports.

In 1939, composer Xian Xinghai (1905-45) premiered the legendary Yellow River Cantata, together with poet Guang Weiran. The work fueled patriotism during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

Created the same year in Yan’an, Shaanxi province, a revolutionary communist base, the work has been performed for decades by musicians and remains a favorite with the public.

“Whenever the music of Yellow River Cantata is played, we feel strong emotions and we are inspired,” says Xiao Xiangrong, a renowned dancer-choreographer.

In 2019, after visiting the Xian Xinghai Museum in Macau, where the composer was born, Xiao was inspired by the life story of Xian and wanted to create a dance drama paying homage to the composer.

Working with veteran choreographer and screenwriter Xu Rui, vice president of Beijing Dance Academy, Xiao realized his ideas with a new dance drama, titled Xian xinghai, which will be premiered at the National Performing Arts Center in Beijing.

Co-produced by Ningbo Performance and Arts Group, the dance drama will premiere at NCPA from Thursday to December 22.

“When I visited the Xian Xinghai Museum in Macau, I was impressed with his life story. He is a legendary composer who created a lot of music in his short life. He was also a man, a husband and a father, who went through hardships during wartime, ”Xiao says.

Born in Macau, Xian traveled to Singapore with his mother, a widowed housekeeper. His teachers understood his talent and introduced him to the world of music. In 1918, Xian went to Guangzhou to study the violin at Sun Yat-sen University, then continued his studies in Beijing and Shanghai before entering the prestigious Paris Conservatory in 1930.

“As a student, Xian was poor and he did various jobs to make ends meet,” Xiao explains, adding that he learned about Xian’s youth at the Macau Museum.

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