Young blood

Updated: 2012-10-26 09:07

By Mu Qian (China Daily)

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Young blood

Sprawling Darkness is one of the creations highlighted at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival. Provided to China Daily

The China Shanghai International Arts Festival has started a program to give local youths' works global exposure. Mu Qian reports.

Shanghai Dream showcased the best of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival's Young Talents Program.

It's the first time the festival has commissioned young artists to create music, dance and theater works to be shown to the world. They created seven works.

The Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center's Studio D6 contains fewer than 300 seats, but among the audience for Shanghai Dream were festival and arts organization directors from 36 countries.

It was like a dream for the young artists - almost all of whom are independent - to show their works at one of China's most important and international festivals.

"It's very rare for us to get an opportunity and the support to present our works at such a prestigious platform," says Yin Fang, a 26-year-old choreographer, whose work Sprawling Darkness was presented at Shanghai Dream.

"I hope there'll be more support for young artists in China because, as artists, we can do very little by ourselves."

Zolan, an ethnic Mongolian composer whose chamber music piece Death and the Maiden was performed at Shanghai Dream, says she usually presents her works at independent art spaces, such as Beijing's 798 art district. But the China Shanghai International Arts Festival gives her work much greater exposure.

"My work is often considered kind of marginal," she says. "I'm glad the festival helps me reach more mainstream audiences."

Death and the Maiden uses Western instruments, such as piano and cello, alongside Mongolian instruments like the morinkhurr (horse-head fiddle) and traditional Mongolian throat-singing, which makes it unique in the Chinese music scene.

Loosely based on Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek's play of the same title, Zolan's composition interprets the paradoxical development of women's lives from her musical perspective.

Both Yin and Zolan received positive audience feedback, and some international festival directors met them after the show and expressed interest in inviting them to perform at their festivals.

While the Young Talents Program provides a chance for the young artists to pursue their dreams, it's also a dream pursued by the China Shanghai International Arts Festival. The event seeks to enhance Shanghai's function as an incubator for original works and represent the creative force of China's young generation. It also strives to expand the festival's international presence with more high-caliber commissioned productions.

"We hope to find emerging artists with great potential and provide opportunities for them," Center for China Shanghai International Arts Festival president Wang Jun says.

"A successful arts festival should not be a stage exclusively reserved for the renowned and the established.

"It should also be a place to showcase the talent and creativity of young artists, who add to the vitality and creativity of the festival with their new perspectives, sharp senses and distinctive individualities."

Wang says the festival will continue working with some of the young artists, commissioning new works from them and recommending them to other festivals.

The other works showcased at Shanghai Dream are Wang Chong's multimedia theater The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai 2.0; Luo Yuebing's physical theater Somnolencia; Tian Jinglun's mini violin concerto Three and a Half Phrases; Zhao Lei and Dong Jie's erhu (a two-stringed fiddle) physical theater Cooing and Wooing; and Qin Yi's new music-media theater Mirror Mind.

Founded in 1999, the China Shanghai International Arts Festival is hosted by the Ministry of Culture and organized by the Shanghai Municipal People's Government. This is the first time it presents its Young Talents Program.

The program is supervised by an arts panel on which sit such established artists as composer Tan Dun, theater director Lin Zhaohua, and choreographers Wang Yuanyuan and Huang Doudou.

"I sincerely hope more young artists can be encouraged and emboldened through our program, so that they can use this time to focus on the quality of their art and not be distracted by the daily trials and tribulations we all face," says Tan, who chairs the panel.

"With their eyes wide and minds open, their precious and unique ideas will undoubtedly influence future generations, the future of our country and the future of the world."

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