A portion of the acclaimed spectacle seen by the world at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is coming to Tamaqua in two weeks, where it will be presented free to the public.
'Silk Road, Flower Rain,' the world-famous dance drama from the People's Republic of China, will take the stage of the Tamaqua Area Auditorium on Friday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m., in a special international cultural ambassadorship performance.
Residents of the Carbon-Schuylkill area might want to compare this showcase of culture with the breathtaking presentation in Tamaqua of 'Colorful China,' on Nov. 4, 2010. That show stopped in the Schuylkill County community as part of a U. S. visit of a Cultural Exchange visa. Featuring 51 Chinese nationals and showcasing the culture of the most populated nation on earth, it took the town by storm, performing to an extended standing ovation.
The production coming Dec. 16, with a troupe similar in size, is expected to do the same. It is an entirely different show but just as significant, say organizers.
"The Silk Road performance has been made possible by World Artists Experiences (WAE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridge cultures and promote understanding through the arts. I consider it an honor to be part of this organization," says Tamaqua native June Krell-Salgado, a catalyst in making the local event possible.
Krell-Salgado is a graduate of Tamaqua Area High School and serves as cultural affairs director at the University of Salisbury, Salisbury, Md. In that capacity, she has been able to play a key role in securing world-class entertainment for her hometown region two years running.
Another catalyst is Betty Maginnis, WAE president and founder, whose tireless efforts are credited with bringing the production to Tamaqua.
The classic dance drama 'Silk Road, Flower Rain' was created by Gansu Song and Dance Theater with the world-renowned Dunhuang frescoes and the Silk Road as its materials, and peace and friendship as its theme.
The production successfully moves the magnificent Dunhuang frescoes onto the stage through a story of friendship and love. Reviewers say it presents the richness of Dunhuang culture, extolling the glorious working people who generated the Dunhuang culture. It narrates a tear-driving story of long-lasting friendship between Chinese people and people from abroad.
Called China's Forever Classic, 'Silk Road, Flower Rain' was chosen to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Chinese National Holiday in 1979, and received the first place in creative and performance.
In 1982, the dance drama was put on the screen by Xi'an Movie Studio. The same year, it was performed on the most glorious theatrical venue in the world, La Scala Theater, becoming the first Asian group performing in the world's top theater of art.
In 1994, Silk Road, Flower Rain received the Golden Award during competition of Classic Dance Dramas of China of the 20th Century, and was crowned the milestone of dance dramas in China.
Since a 1979 debut, 'Silk Road, Flower Rain' was put on the stage 1,600 times. In October, 2004, it was recorded by Shanghai World Jinisi as the "Best Dance Drama in China".
It has been put on stage in more than 20 countries and regions including North Korea, France, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Spain, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Macao. It is regarded as the role model of China folk dance drama.
An adaptation of 'Silk Road, Flower Rain' was presented at the 29th Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. It was performed five times at Tianqiao Theater in Beijing, displaying the extensive Dunhuang culture to China and to the world. With the successful completion of the mission of performing for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the drama had won glory for Gansu, for the classics, and China's dance drama.
As chosen by Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPC and the Ministry of Culture, the production was again invited to Beijing to perform for the 60th Anniversary of the National Holiday. The show, renewed again, was performed in the National Centre for the Performing Arts from July 29 to Aug. 2, 2009, with a total number of five performances.
'Silk Road, Flower Rain' has generated profound influence on the history of dance in China, becoming a big brand name in China and the rest of world.
In 2009, it was awarded by the Ministry of Culture the "Award of Excellent and Classic Repertoire", and the new edition performed for the 60th Anniversary of the National Holiday won the title as the "Best Play" and first place in 26 other award categories. 'Silk Road, Flower Rain' will be carried on through generations as the pearl of the dance dramas in China.
There are many hands involved in bringing such a big-time show to the Tamaqua area.
Krell-Salgado says the following entities are responsible for making this once-in-a-lifetime performance available locally: the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States, The Chinese Ministry of Culture, World Artists Experiences and the Tamaqua Area School District.
"Special thanks to those who have formed a Tamaqua Ambassador Team to help make this event go forward," says Krell-Salgado, "including school Superintendent Carol Makuta, Ken Dunkelberger, Bernadette Griffiths, June and Donald Krell, Dale Freudenberger, plus others who have helped this go forward, including Doris Kropp, Suzanne Krepak Krell and the women in her sorority. Plus, there are others that are contributing in other ways."
According to Bernadette Griffiths, Hometown, the performers will visit downtown Tamaqua.
"The troupe will also be performing for the students in the morning and then having lunch at La Dolce Casa at around noon," says Griffiths, who is reprising last year's role of arranging for good, old-fashioned Tamaqua coal region hospitality for the visitors.