Performing Arts: Mainline To The Mainland

by Editorial

A month-long art series at The Kennedy Center will bring Chinese culture, theater, music and more to the district.

The Shenzhen Lily Children's Choir kicks off the Chinese culture series at the Kennedy Center. (photo courtesy of Amanda Hunter, The Kennedy Center)

What do you get when you mix D.C. and China? The “China: The Art of a Nation” performance series at The Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW.

Inspired by the Center’s Festival of China and in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of People’s Republic of China, the series will features 300 artists who will present dance, music, theater performances and more that represent both the familiar and unknown aspects of Chinese culture.

Events in this series range in price, many being free and perfect for the family.  Check out these events, available almost every week from early September to early October and dive into the uniqueness and beauty of the Chinese culture. (Plays will feature English surtitles):

Shenzhen Lily Children’s Choir

Monday, September 12 at Millennium Stage: Free.
Founded in 1997, the Lily Children’s Choir, made up of students from Shenzhen Senior High School, present musical melodies that promote Chinese music to foreign audiences.  The choir will sing Flower Petals from Around the World.  The kids are sure to love this free musical event at Millennium Stage.

Tangshan Shadow Puppet Theatre

Thursday, September 15 at Millennium Stage: Free.
By attending these fun puppet performances, you’ll be added to the audience portfolio of the Tangshan Shadow Puppet Theatre amongst high profile Chinese and foreign leaders! At the Center, the puppet theatre will perform a variety of shows, including A Clever Monkey, Borrowing a Treasure from the Dragon Palace and Crane and the Tortoise.

Beauty and Melody Orchestra of the Sichuan Song and Dance Troupe

Friday, September 16 at the Millennium Stage: Free.
An all-female ensemble who has performed at the United Nations in 2005 will grace the Center with song and dance from the Sichuan Province.  Incorporated into the performances are Chinese instruments that guide the dancers and singers in Chinese folk-styled performances.

National Theatre of China

Tuesday, September 20 & Wednesday, September 21, 7:30 PM, at the Terrance Theatre: $25.
Looking for a laugh?  How about the National Theatre of China‘s comedic performance of their play “Two Dogs’ Opinions on Life”?  This improv comedy shows the two dog brothers who move to the city to fulfill their dreams.  But it’s not that easy, of course.  Find out what happens to them by purchasing tickets.

China-USA: A Celebration of Music

Wednesday, September 21, 7:30 PM, at the Opera House: $10-$45.
These performances are all thanks to President Nixon.  After he traveled to China in 1972, the foreign country opened up its musical talents to the world and our nation.  These musical performances are inspired by the union of two countries and the sharing of their cultures.  Conductor Xian Zhang will lead the international cast of musical soloists and the Washington National Opera Orchestra in the display of contemporary Chinese operas, like “Madame White Snake,” and solo performances on the ehru, a two-stringed Chinese fiddle.  Witness two cultures become one in these musical masterpieces.

National Ballet of China

A National Ballet of China performer in "The Red Detachment of Women." (photo courtesy of Amanda Hunter, The Kennedy Center)

Thursday, September 22nd- Saturday, September 24th, 8 PM, at Eisenhower Tower: $25-$60
If you were at the Festival of China at the Center in 2005 and saw this ballet company, you’ll know what talent they have.  The National Ballet of China company is returning to perform again; this time, wow-ing the audience with their performance of the ever-popular Swan Lake Act II and The Red Detachment of Women Acts I and II.  Tickets vary in price, but the combining of classic and contemporary Chinese culture will make these performances worth it.

Inner Mongolia Chorus

Sunday, September 25th, 2 PM, at Terrace Theatre: $15.
Some performances of the series will show modern displays of art and culture, but the Inner Mongolia Chorus keeps it old-school all the way through.  They will perform traditional regional music and works that represent the heritage and legacy of Northern China’s Inner Mongolian autonomous region.  Having performed at the Millennium Stage in 2005, you may recognize their amazing performance.  For just $15, you can check the chorus out again.

Northern Kuqu Opera Theatre

Wednesday, September 28th and Thursday, September 29th, 7:30 PM, at Terrace Theatre: $30.
Having produced nearly 60 shows in all formats, the Northern Kuqu Opera Theatre is sure to bring the Center’s audience a great performance.  Romance of West Chamber, a story of young love and its battle with traditional customs, will be performed at the Center.

Beijing People’s Art Theatre

Friday, September 30th and Saturday, October 1st at 7:30 PM, and Sunday October 2nd at 1:30 PM at Eisenhower Tower: $25-$60
Known as China’s premier professional theatre company, the Beijing People’s Art Theatre will perform “Top Restaurant,” the story of the history of a Pecking roast duck restaurant and its business for half a century.

Beijing Dance Theatre

Wednesday, October 26th and Thursday, October 27th at Eisenhower Theatre: $22-$60.

Take a look at China’s first contemporary dance troupe and their performance of Haze, a display of the economic and environmental problems of early 2009 in China.  The dance troupe combines dance, the arts of China and the creativity of contemporary Chinese culture together through its performances.

Landscape in Mind

Monday, September 12th through Monday, October 31st: Free.

Have you ever seen the work of some of the best Chinese artists?  Well, here’s your chance.  This outdoor exhibit at the Center will feature both traditional and contemporary works of art.  Some artists included in the exhibit are Xu Jiang, the president and professor of China National Academy of Fine ArtsMu Chen, a Beijing-based artist whose work can be found around the world, and many more.  All these masterpieces available for free for over a month at the Center.

For more information on China: The Art of  Nation, visit The Kennedy Center website by clicking here.

The Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre performs "Romance of the West Chamber." (photo courtesy of Amanda Hunter, The Kennedy Center)

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