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In modern dance Chinese opera

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In recent years, choreographer Shen Wei has first astounded Durham audiences--and then the world--with the cool tectonic games in his Rite of Spring, and his dance-as-sculpture-as-painting manifesto, Connect Transfer. When the American Dance Festival opens this week, Mr. Shen unveils his idea of what a 21st-century Chinese opera is. As usual with this artist, check all preconceptions at the door. The world premiere of The Second Visit to the Empress, with live Chinese opera singers and orchestra, will be performed with English and Chinese supertitles, Thursday through Saturday, in Reynolds Theater. Tickets are $32-38; call 684-4444 for reservation.

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