The second night of the Asia-Pacific Youth Arts Festival (AYAF) in Shenzhen kicked off with a red carpet walk of international stars and performers from the 24 countries participating in the event. The loudest screams were reserved for Jay Chou – the young Taiwanese heartthrob that Time Magazine labeled as Asia’s hottest pop star. He performed a number in the concert that followed as a guest artist. Another guest artist was the 24-year-old Chinese classical pianist, Lang Lang, who has been described as one of the greatest classical pianists of the current generation.

The contrast between the performances of the two guest artists was as marked as the contrast between the performances of the other performers competing for the AYAF prizes – they ranged from elegant classical dances to heavy rock numbers – and just about everything in between.

I particularly liked a group of dancers from Macau, who performed a very elegant flamingo dance (not the Spanish flamingo dance, but a dance based on the movements of flamingo birds) and a group of eight male dancers from South Korea called B-Boy who performed Michael Jackson type dance numbers (but in comparison to those guys, Jackson looks like a stuffed doll). Their energy was unbelievable.

But the performance that surprised everyone and generated the loudest applause was by a group of young Mongolians who made up a horse-hair string instrument band. They were dressed in traditional Mongolian costumes, and everyone thought they were going to deliver a classical number – but it turned out to be hard rock. Their voices were amazing and the instrumentation most unusual – the audience loved it.

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