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Culture weeks focus of ‘side events’

An array of side-events showcasing cultures from China and around the world will be adding color to this year’s Shanghai International Arts Festival. Special programs include Tibetan Culture Week and Indian Culture Week.

Such “festivals within the festival” have been a fixture of the city’s annual arts extravaganza since 2002, bringing lesser-known artists as well as diverse cultural practices to Shanghai, according to Liu Wenguo, the festival’s artistic director. Previous programs have included Mexican Culture Week, German Culture Week and Shaanxi Culture Week.

“These side events embrace different styles of art and offer an important supplementary component to the festival,” says Liu.

This year, other side-events include the Shanghai International Magic Festival, Shanghai International Comedy Festival and Zhujiajiao Watertown Music Festival.

A series of stage performance and exhibitions representing the rich culture of the Tibetan people is set to charm audiences from October 27 and November 1.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, a grand song and dance show entitled “Charming Tibet” will be staged at Shanghai Grand Theater on October 27, raising the curtain on a host of Tibetan cultural events.

According to the show’s director Wei Dong, “Charming Tibet” is meant to represent the pastoral, agrarian and forest traditions of Tibetan culture. It will feature a host of dances and performances, including Gesar speech-singing, a form of folk art practiced among Tibetan groups in the Tibetan Autonomous Region as well as Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu provinces.

“We are not only exhibiting Tibetan customs, but also attracting people to the Tibetan culture and people. That is the most important part of the performance,” says Wei.

Two exhibitions featuring precious cultural relics and the intangible cultural heritage of Tibet will open to the public in late October.

The Tibetan Cultural Relics Exhibition will display artifacts collected by the Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and the Tibet Museum. The exhibit will include Buddhist statues, paintings and decorations made between the North Wei Dynasty (368-534 AD) and the modern era. The exhibition will remain at the museum from October 27 to November 26.


Meanwhile, the Collective Exhibition of Tibetan Intangible Cultural Heritage will run from October 30 to November 1. Exemplars of the area’s intangible cultural heritage will be exhibited at the Shanghai Public Gallery, including Tangka paintings, as well as Tibetan calligraphy, incense, medicine, embroidery and metal work. The exhibition will feature on-site demonstrations of various Tibetan practices.

Indian Culture Week will run from November 5 to 16, unfolding the splendid musical, dance and painting traditions of India.

The festivities kick off with “Bollywood Extravaganza,” an epic musical theater show at the Shanghai Grand Theater on November 5. The show tells a story of friendship, romance and jealousy through the expressive language of modern Indian dance. Since its debut in 2008, it has already toured more than 11 countries.

Audiences can also hear traditional Indian folk music when the Rajasthan Josh Orchestra performs on November 8 at Shanghai Urban Lawn. The orchestra will play traditional instruments from northwest India, such as the double flute and the bansuri. The exotic Indian snake-dance will also make an appearance.

Visual works from some 100 India artists will be on view at the “Artistic Conception of Faith” exhibition, which runs from November 6 to February 21 at the China Art Museum. The show will include paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations and multimedia pieces.

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