Silk Road Fantasy: Polyethnicity Revived?

3 Projections in Music and Dance

From the start of the reign of Deng Xiaoping, openness to non-Chinese (=non-Maoist, non-Soviet) “culture”: (of course meaning mainly technology and trade) becomes a themesong of public rhetoric. What we here need to address here, however, is another aspect of that paradigmatic shift: the search for a translation into or through the arts of the same idea. Worth trying I think because the persuasiveness of such an endeavor has a way of confirming or (by its failure) undercutting the rhetoric.

The four dance-suites, in order of staging, are: Silu huayu (1979);
《铜雀伎》 -(orig 1978) Dancing Girl of the Tongque Platform; (3) Zhuowa sangmu (1982); and Princess Peacock (Kongque Gongzhu The Princess Peacock, Namununa, film 1982 from 1957 revival).

Interestingly, the agreed upon trope was the Silk Road and its China-proximate probings westward into what is now Kazakhstan (not yet then Moslem) and thence over the Gobi to Persia, and south(west) ward along the Malaysian Archipelago and up into Arabia and the Red Sea. But why and by which collaborating (or not quite) artists was the idea pursued? Western students of “medieval” (Tang-Sung) art and especially mural art of course have their own implicit intuition, having to do with excavations reopened as part of a morale-boosting effort for the newly resurrected phalanx of CASS and other centers of historical research(??) …

But we must bear in mind that for most Chinese antiquarians, the re-exploration of the Dunhuang (esp. the Mogao) caverns brought little new in subject matter – at least in the world of of wall-paintings.But not so for music, which was the breakthrough frontier of the reworking of the Dunhuang “text” as a whole, allied as ever with dance. I)n a dramatic series of Rosetta stone class decodes, 席臻贯 and other scholars at work since the early 1980s arrived at last (1988-1992) at a final set of instrumental scores, allowing composers and choreographers (see G:\Users\user\Desktop\GeekSquadBackupSONY\HD2 Back up\Documents and Settings\James Polachek\K drive transfer my docs july 3 09\My Music\HanTang reconstructions\guyue from Dunhuangr) to hear performances of what kind of sounds had sounded like what.

… (elaboration to follow)


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