"All for happiness and healthy growth", proclaimed the fluttering banners. On this dry and scorching morning, a crowd had gathered in the dusty basketball court for a momentous occasion. A frisson of excitement ran through the gathered throng as officious-looking figures mounted the dais to announce the opening of the Red Army Primary School. At that moment, the band strikes up a rousing tune and the rows of patiently waiting dancers swing energetically into well-practised synchrony. Canvas-shod feet tap and stomp; torsos swivel left and right; hands clasp and unclasp as if in entreaty. But for what? A careful examination each powdered young face and painted red lips reveals nothing. Each leaping figure could well be calling for the country's continued prosperity and righteousness; or for its individual absolution and survival. As China moves forward into the 21st century, the interaction of its present and past becomes increasingly inseparable and as polysemous as its celebrated youth dance. [Loo Ching Ling 吕晶琳]
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