China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater

Cultural bridge, colourful costumes, and voices of welcome

Last evening at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre, Antigua and Barbuda citizens and residents received more than a taste of exhilarating Chinese culture – they experienced the crème de la crème of song, dance, drama, and the synchronization of all these things wrapped into a colourful and beautiful presentation of theatre. The China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater is on a 2016 China-Latin America and Caribbean cultural exchange tour.

The event coincides with the season of the China Lunar New Year which is the most colourful and widely celebrated holiday celebrated by the people of China. In attendance at the splendid artistic performance were: Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams; Minister of Public Utilities, Aviation and Transportation (a parliamentarian of 40 consecutive years), the Honourable Robin Yearwood; Minister of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development, the Honourable Samantha Marshall;  Ambassador from the People’s Republic of China to Antigua and Barbuda, His Excellency Ren Gongpeng; Non-resident Ambassador to China from Antigua and Barbuda, Ambassador Brian Stuart-Young; other diplomats, government officials, members of the local Chinese community, and distinguished ladies and gentlemen inclusive of several children – some associated with various drama groups in the country.

The evening’s start saw an impressive musical rendition of the national anthems of the two countries – Antigua and Barbuda and the People’s Republic of China – by a talented trio drawn from ‘troupe’ that attracted great applause. After that, several remarks were made by key personalities inclusive of the Governor General, Ambassador Stuart-Young, Ambassador, Gongpeng, and from Minister Marshall speaking on behalf of the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda. Local orator, Maurice Merchant was one of two Master of Ceremonies, giving the English version of all that brought theatrical life to link with the mixed but excitable audience.

The marks had a common theme of welcome to the Chinese delegation, and the fact that deeper cooperation has been taken to a higher level of mutual friendship with the active presence of Ambassador Gongpeng in Antigua and Barbuda. There was also some historial overtones mentioning the beginning of the bonds that were forged in 1983 with the then national leader V.C. Bird in which the current Governor General and Ambassador Young had been pivotal right from the start of the 33-year-old bridge to mutual friendship and diplomatic channels of cooperation.

The audience was then entreated to a mixture of stellar performances which all depicted life, nature, peace, unity and other cultural expositions of which the cross-cultural influences of Chinese, English, and Spanish were very well expressed. Poetry in motion, and the appeal of putting folklore on stage were impressive and impressionable. There is no doubt, that Antigua and Barbuda was at the receiving end of a cultural performance fit for the best of international theatres.

The colourful costumes and the rhythmic flows made patrons breathe with euphoric sense of anticipation, hoping that the show could be longer. To that end, this evening there will be a final performance at the same venue. This is a show that must be seen and enjoyed for its cultural flavor. It is also expected that later in the year, a steel pan troupe from Antigua will journey to China and there showcase some of the best of Antigua to that population.