China’s dance drama “To Meet Grand Canal” was presented in Panama on November 18, marking the biggest cultural and artistic exchange between the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties.

With a record-setting attendance of over 6,000 people, the dance drama, featuring the long history and enduring culture of the China’s Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, deeply moved the Panamanian audience, who applauded and cheered after the show ended.

An official with the Panamanian Ministry of Culture surnamed Alexandra said she felt touched by the scene of garbage-picking residents trying to protect the canal, saying that protecting grand canals is like protecting the mother river of all human beings.

Though the two countries have a different history and culture, China and Panama share the same feeling for their respective canal. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, listed as a world heritage site in 2014, has witnessed the development of China and nourished one generation of Chinese after another. To Panamanians, the Panama Canal plays the same role. This shared feeling not only creates a connection between Chinese performers and Panamanian audiences, but also between China and Panama.

This year marks the first anniversary of China-Panama diplomatic ties, thus the drama was more of a cultural exchange than a regular stage performance.

“The performance will strengthen the friendship between our two peoples and promote cooperation between the two countries,” said Wei Qiang, the Chinese ambassador to Panama.

Juan Francisco, an official with the Panamanian Ministry of Culture, said that culture and art are the best two bridges of communication.

“To Meet Grand Canal,” the first Chinese dance drama made by Hangzhou Opera and Dance Theatre for introducing Chinese cultural heritage, integrates action art and theatrics to depict the history of the Grand Canal and its cultural value by mixing tradition with the modern, history, and the future. The dance drama started its world tour in 2017 and has been performed in France, Germany, Egypt, and other countries.

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