Ancient grotto art reborn in mural dance

LANZHOU-It is another busy day. Bodies twist on the floor and the sound of a hand clap, followed by instructions, rings out from a dance studio in Lanzhou, Gansu province.

“Get ready. Mind your manners, and begin. First, high kick … Now try again,” said Jin Liang, director of a research center for Dunhuang mural dance at the Lanzhou University of Arts and Science.

Dunhuang mural dance draws its inspiration from the iconic figure of the flying Apsara in the Mogao Grottoes-a 1,650-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to more than 2,000 sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals.

The dance is acclaimed for its graceful gestures, which require brief bursts of strength and good balance.

All the attention in the studio is on Jin, who gives precise instructions for the movements of the hands and waist, as well as for breathing rhythms and facial expressions.

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