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French designer makes Chinese ancient town aglow with fireworks


Xinhua
24 Jan 2023

© Provided by Xinhua

NANCHANG, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- In dim moonlight, hundreds of people gathered at a square to enjoy the fireworks drama "Love of Fireworks," which presents clusters of fireworks above the Wanzai ancient town in east China's Jiangxi Province.

The show is designed by Sophie Poirier, a French woman who was swaying to the music and easily stood out in the crowd.

During her preparations for the firework show, Poirier integrated French touch of romance into traditional Chinese culture, creating gorgeous sparks which highlighted both Eastern and Western aesthetics.

The French woman has been obsessed with Chinese culture since she was a child. In her childhood, she often fantasized that she was a Chinese princess in her cheongsam, waving a round silk fan and humming the melody of the Peking Opera.

In 1983, she entered the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales to study the Chinese language, as it was her all-time wish. Three years later, she traveled to China with her grandmother and experienced the charm of different Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Guilin, Chongqing, Shanghai and Beijing. It was the breathtaking sceneries along the trip that made up decide to work in the foreign country.

In 1991, as a designer of ECA2, a well-known French large-scale event maker, Poirier went to the Beijing Amusement Park and brought her very first dreamlike laser water curtain film to the Chinese audience.

Later on, she participated in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a member of the international design team. She has also designed performances for many well-known tourist destinations including Hengshan Mountain in Hunan Province, Changbai Mountain in Jilin Province and Hailongtun ancient town in Guizhou Province.

Though Poirier has extensive experience in performance design, she fell in love with the small stage of Wanzai, a sleepy ancient town with nearly a 1,400-year history of producing fireworks, following a collaboration invitation of Zeng Ming, general manager of Wanzai Kaleidoscope Culture and Tourism Company.

Zeng's company is a supplier of firework products for Disneylands as well as the Universal resorts, and also the discharge operator of Shenzhen's landmark park, Window of the World. The company sells around 600,000 boxes of firework products to the United States every year, forming a relatively stable development scale and industrial layout in Wanzai.

To further boost local tourism and revitalize the ancient town's economy, Poirier teamed up with Zeng's company in March to develop fireworks drama shows, which integrate fireworks, local characteristic culture and new media application into a distinctive cultural mark for the Wanzai scenic spot.

Poirier even adopted modern lighting settings and special effects equipment to blend the live-action effects of rain, snow, wind, fog and light into the performance, creating an immersive art experience for the audience. Her innovation once attracted up to over 50,000 tourists to enjoy the firework feast in Wanzai. To date, her "Love of Fireworks" has performed nearly 200 times, becoming Wanzai's major magnet for its visitors.

Poirier's artworks are also fueling the local firework makers. Currently, Wanzai produces more than 4,000 varieties of fireworks and firecrackers, selling the products to over 100 countries and regions abroad. Its annual firework export value can reach about 200 million U.S. dollars, according to the local firework and firecracker industry service center.

Chinese firework brands were once rare to see in Europe, but now they can be spotted in many large-scale competitions and events there, Poirier said. "I am looking forward to creating more splendid firework shows in the future and lighting up the night sky of more countries," she added.

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