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ARTS DIARY: Phoenix rises for city's China festival; Lew Baxter reports on a Mersey dance and music success story.

Byline: Lew Baxter

FOLLOWING the sell-out success of the first Chinese dance and music festival held in Liverpool at the weekend, organisers are now hoping it can become an annual event.

Staged at the Unity Theatre, it featured a fascinating fusion of classical dance, music and martial arts from China linked to a series of Western-style contemporary dance performances, several choreographed by former Rambert dancer Jaqueline Jones.

Billed as the Phoenix Chinese Performing Arts Platform, the festival was created by Huang Fenfen from Zhejiang Province in China who is a graduate of the University of Liverpool. She also has a dancing diploma from the city's Community College.

According to Ms Huang, the capacity audience came from all over Merseyside as well as Blackpool and Lancaster, while scores of others queued forlornly for spare tickets.

She explained that the main dance elements of the show - themed The Spirit Never Dies - featured a series of solo, duo and group works that emphasised traditional Chinese values.

"I wanted to show the beauty of Chinese classical performance linked to modern contemporary dance," said Ms Huang, whose own solo was called the Spirit of the Peacock

Music also featured in the event with Clive Newton, the director of the University of Liverpool's language school, playing guitar and singing Chinese traditional songs.

Ms Jones - who is based at the Merseyside Dance Initiative, and also teaches at LIPA - said: "I became involved after working with Liverpool's LEAP dance festival.

"I was delighted that six of my own dance students took part as the show was an intriguing mix of Chinese and Western choreography," added Jacqueline, who also performed her own solo creation the Elements.


Dancer Siyao Rui, at the Chinese Dance and Music festival in Liverpool
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 29, 2006
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