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A recurring element in science fiction is the widespread use of a universal language -- you know, like the idiomatic English everyone spoke in Star Wars, but with more slang. But that language already exists in the form of dance. Sure, a few hand gestures are construed differently from culture to culture, but the broad strokes of emotional expression translate fairly neatly across nationalities. Arabesque, the first private contemporary dance company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, uses dance to tell the world about the cyclical nature of Vietnamese rice farming in its piece The Mist. Rice requires intensive labor in wet conditions, and it comes with a host of rhythmic movements that lend themselves to dance. The Mist uses the traditions of the growing year in a manner that honors Vietnam's traditional agrarian methods through the conventions of a modern dance company. Arabesque performs The Mist at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (October 24 and 25), at the Edison Theatre on Washington University's campus (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543 or www.edison.wustl.edu). Tickets are $20 to $36.
Fri., Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 25, 8 p.m., 2014

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