As railway workers break ground for the Guanjiao Tunnel in mountainous Qinghai Province, they meet a middle-aged Tibetan woman and her younger brother who tell stories of the railway builders in the late 1970s, when the miraculous Qinghai-Tibet railway was under construction.

This is the beginning of the dance drama “The Railway to Tibet,” a Beijing entry competing for the Wenhua Award, the country’s top arts prize, at the ongoing 12th China Art Festival.

Presented by the National Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday in Shanghai, it can be seen through live-streaming.

“We have revised the show, making it more fluent so that the audience can experience the same challenges, friendships and partnerships as the construction workers and the Tibetans,” said Wang Ge, the show’s director.

Friendship is a key theme of the ballet, told through anecdotes and encounters between construction workers and local Tibetans through three generations, via various dances.

The show was critically acclaimed when it premiered last year to commemorate China’s 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up and the 12th anniversary of the Qinghai-Tibet railway. The railway was one of the key projects at the beginning of reform and opening-up.

“Tian Lu,” the show’s Chinese name meaning the path to heaven, has been an expression to describe challenging roads since ancient times. The railway was built more than 5,000 meters above sea level.

“This dance drama does an excellent job of integrating different types of dance languages into a coherent structure, while allowing the physical movement to support and push forward the narrative,” dancer Huang Doudou said in praise of the show’s meticulous production and creative ideas.

Performance details

Date: May 24-25, 7:30pm
Tickets: 60-380 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Poly Grand Theater
Address: 159 Baiyin Rd, Jiading District