A Chinese homecoming for an American ballet choreographer

By Chen Nan | China Daily | 2017-04-17 07:38

A Chinese homecoming for an American ballet choreographer

Dancers of the National Ballet of China in Beijing rehearse The Song of the Earth. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Mahler chose seven of the Chinese poems to be lyrics for The Song of the Earth, a symphony for tenor and alto (or baritone) voice and orchestra.

"We could imagine that these Chinese poems, in a sense, are like music, which could be heard and interpreted very differently by who was reading the poem or by the same person who was reading the poem at different times of his life," says Neumeier.

"The deep emotion, through the translation, was deeply impressive for Mahler. In the end, he rewrote the poem himself, particularly in the last part of the symphony, which is called Farewell."

As for the general theme of the work, the work is "the realization that human life is limited", the choreographer says.

"It's only a certain time for us to live on this earth, to dance and to sing on this earth," Neumeier says.

He adds that in the third and fourth movements of the work, Mahler's portrayal reminded listeners of memories, such as drinking tea and discovering young girls picking flowers.

"The earth will exist much longer than we. If we are lucky, we have a hundred years, he says in the text," Neumeier says.

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