It was pure delight for audience and performers at Baird Auditorium last night as dancers and musicians from the People's Republic of China revealed a dreamlike glimpse into a world of great cultural diversity.
Uighur, Kergez, Mongol and Chinese dancers and musicians shared ethnic pride just as their ancestors had when caravans of two-humped Bactrian camels traveled the famed "silk route" from China to the Mediterranean, bringing about a mingling and migration of peoples, races, religions and cultures--from Arabia and Persia, across Central Asia, Sinkiang, Mongolia and the hinterlands of China.
The program demonstrated sounds and movements whose ancient origins still remain a mystery, including the characteristic head-neck movements of the Uighur and the distinctive shoulder-shaking of Mongolian dance. The instrumentalists were all top performers. Pipa virtuoso He Shufeng played music rarely heard in the West. Other unique folk instruments included a double-reed oboe, a Uighur lute, hand drums, and a three-string lute played by a Kergez whose enthusiastic magic-like strumming (sometimes with his left hand alone) brought cheers from the audience. Jin Ou stole the show playing panpipes of the Miao people while he danced. China's Silk Route troupe helped to promote a better appreciation of a varied, rich cultural heritage. --Leo Sarkisian