The Yunnan Provincial Song and Dance Ensemble takes aspects of the incredibly wide variety of Chinese culture and mixes it up into one show that attempts to reflect that diversity. Members of the ensemble are mostly members of Chinese minority groups, each of which has its own distinct dances, songs, and costumes.
The ensemble's works have garnered tremendous numbers of awards in China. The dance-drama Ashima won five awards from China's Ministry of Culture; a great many of the group's other works, such as The Footprints of Love, Water-Splashing Festival, Plucking, and Pulling Wooden Drum, have garnered first-place prizes in competitions around China.
Despite its fame in its native land, the Yunnan ensemble remains little-known outside Asia, despite a touring schedule that has included more than 30 countries and regions. The troupe's United States tour has so far been a success, sweeping south from Detroit to Atlanta and finally to South Florida this week. The ensemble, founded in 1950, now includes a dancing group, a choir, a traditional Chinese music band as well as an orchestra, a team of choreographers, and a collection of arts archives. For audiences who can check their political ideology at the door, this performance is sure to provide a fascinating glimpse of the Middle Kingdom's incomparable cultural heritage.