Celebrating the beauty and power of China in Athens

The road of silk leads from China to Athens this week as the old Athinais silk factory – refurbished and redesigned into an attractive cultural complex – hosts a four-day event based on Chinese culture, cuisine, cinema and music. «Athens-Beijing, The Silk Road» runs from tomorrow to June 11. To help visitors immerse themselves into the sounds, smells and flavors of China with grace, Athinais has set up a display of Chinese costumes and jewelry, as well as photographs of the country, in its main exhibition hall. Opera’s finest One of the highlights of the upcoming events are two performances by the Guiyang Beijing Opera, on Monday and Tuesday at 9.30 p.m. The acclaimed troupe comes to Athens to present four traditional Chinese children’s tales. The Guiyang company has emerged as one of the country’s most popular opera troupes, appearing in various international theatrical festivals. The Beijing Opera’s roots go back to the end of the 18th century, boasting a combination of music, dance, theater and acrobatics. Due to its multifaceted productions, it is considered the ultimate means of expression of Chinese culture. It is based on four traits: chang (vocals), nian (dialogue), zuo (acting), and da (martial arts and acrobatics). Though commonly known as the Beijing Opera (with various troupes) it actually developed in the Anhui and Hubei regions, and was initially destined as a spectacle reserved exclusively for members of the royal family. Much later, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the opera’s performances were forbidden. They resumed in 1978 and continue up to today, unaltered, with the same impressive costumes, colors and makeup techniques. Further visual titillation is on offer with four film screenings starting tomorrow at 9.30p.m. with the award-winning «Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.» A 2000 release by Ang Lee, this exquisite film walked away with the Oscars for art and set direction, cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, music, direction, and costumes, among others. The second screening, on Sunday at the same time, is «The Emperor and the Assassin» by Kaige Chen, nominated for the 1999 Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, while on Monday, visitors to Athinais can watch Zhang Yimou’s «Road Home,» the winner of the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear in 2000. Screenings end on Tuesday with Wang Xiaoshuai’s «Beijing Bicycle,» another Silver Bear winner. Feasts and business With Chinese cuisine becoming increasingly available in Athens these days, Athinais will not be neglecting hungry appetites, having invited the chef of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Athens to prepare delicacies from the Szechuan region. These culinary delights, based on the use of fresh vegetables, fine seasonings and fluffy rice or noodles, will be served up at the complex’s Red and Votanikos restaurants. In addition to all the fun and games, a second part of the event aims at enhancing Greek-Chinese business ties. In response to Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s visit to the People’s Republic of China, Athinais has organized a one-day conference titled «Beijing 2008 – Business Opportunities,» put together on the initiative of the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Taking part in the conference will be representatives of the chamber as well as local and Chinese businessmen. ‘Athens-Beijing, The Silk Road,’ at Athinais Cultural Complex, 34-36 Kastorias in Votanikos. For more information and reservations tel 010.348.0000.

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