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Church hosts China's 'little swallows'

Dancing across the stage in their flowing pink Arabian outfits, 18 members of the Little Swallows Art Troupe from China performed at the Washington D.C. Stake Center recently.

Earlier this year, Chinese representatives asked the Church's International Affairs Office to coordinate the Swallow's performance in Washington. "What a marvelous opportunity this has been to assist and host our friends from China," commented Beverly Campbell, director of the International Affairs Office.During the performance, the multi-talented group of 9- to 11-year old girls described the spring scenery through the Chinese stringed Lute, told the story of the "Old Maid" with their painted masks, and sang "Do Re Mi" in English. The audience of 700 included diplomats from the Chinese embassy and community, Church members and media representatives.

The troupe is from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of China. The girls sing, dance, and play many traditional Chinese musical instruments. Around 1,000 primary and middle school students in the Yinchuan City of Ningxia Hui area have been trained for the troupe which was founded in 1985. Eighteen of the 230 members currently in the troupe are touring the United States.

During the last decade the Little Swallows have participated in the production of many television programs and were voted the "excellent chorus troupe" of the entire country.

"What an honor it is to have them perform here in our own stake center," remarked one audience member.

At the conclusion of the performance, 80 children from the Chinese diplomatic community presented the Swallows with welcoming carnations and well-wishes for their stay in the United States.

An informal reception was held in their honor at the Temple Visitors Center after the performance. More than 100 people attended the gathering where gift bags full of Washington, D.C., remembrances were given to troupe members and typical American ice cream was eaten. Now every performer has her own picture of the Washington Temple, a Washington D.C. T-shirt and a "choose the right" pencil and ring.

From Washington, the troupe continued its United States tour, performing at the International Sisters City Conference in Indianapolis, Ind., and at California's Disneyland.

"This has truly been an important and successful cultural exchange and will do much to enhance our understanding of one another," Sister Campbell said.

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