Drama emphasizes birds’ plight

With traditional Chinese music, opulent costumes and expressive choreography, the dance drama is about crested ibises, precious rare birds that symbolize happiness and blessings, and the interdependence of human beings and nature.

Presented by the China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) with the Shanghai Dance Theatre (SDT), Soaring Wings appeared at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for three performances (Jan 5-7) and will play at the Shubert Theatre at Boch Center in Boston for two performances Jan 11-12.

The production draws on elements of Western ballet, mixing Chinese classical dance and modern dance.

“It is the dance language only belonging to Soaring Wings,” said Tong Ruirui, director and choreographer.

The story focuses on issues of environmental protection for the preserved rare bird species.

Centuries ago, human beings lived in harmony with these birds. With modernization and urbanization, though, the living environment of the crested ibis began to deteriorate and, in the middle of the 20th century, they were declared an endangered species.

In May 1981, Chinese scientists accidentally discovered seven wild crested ibises in Shaanxi province in Northwest China. Today, with careful nurturing, the population of crested ibises in China has grown to more than 2,000.

“Soaring Wings conveys the concept that human beings should put great emphasis on the protection and construction of eco-environments and particularly keep a harmonious relationship with animals,” said Chen Feihua, producer of the show, who is artistic director of SDT.

“Nature has always been an integral part of the Chinese culture and philosophy, and we tend to focus on the relationships between the various elements in nature rather than what controls them,” said Wang Xiuqin, deputy director of CAEG.