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Arts & Culture ... ...
    Ballet highlights New Year theatre
Chen Jie
2005-01-28 06:56

The National Ballet of China will commence its 2005 season with four shows at the Tianqiao Theatre on February 1, 2, 4 and 5. While all proceeds from the first performance will be donated to the China Red-Cross Society to aid tsunami victims.

Each performance will also feature principal dancers Zhu Yan, Zhang Jian, Wang Qimin, Meng Ningning, Sun Jie, Li Jun, Yu Bo and Han Po.

"I know that many Chinese artists have donated a great deal of time and money towards families shattered by the disaster. I feel a sense of duty to contribute," said ballerina Zhu Yan.

The February 1 and 2 performance is composed of Act Two of "Giselle," Act Two of the Chinese ballet "New Year's Sacrifice" and Act Three of "don Quixote."

While "Giselle" and "don Quixote" are both recognizable pieces. "New Year's Sacrifice" has not been performed in over 20 years and today's audience would not be as familiar with it.

First performed back in 1980 by the National Ballet of China, literary maestro Lu Xun's tale is one of great tragedy and sorrow.

The tale focuses on Sister Xianglin, who after the death of her first husband, is forced to marry a man whom she has never met. Not long after, her second husband dies of an illness and her son is killed by a wolf. Believing she will be punished in the afterlife for the death of her husband, she goes about trying to make amends. After being denied from paying her dues during New Year celebrations, she eventually dies of a broken heart.

Performed to Liu Tingyu's score and choreographed by Jiang Zuhui, the ballet is famed for its pas de deux. These are renowned for being used by Chinese dancers in international competitions and festivals.

In Act Two, the pas de deux between Sister Xianglin and her second husband He Laoliu at their wedding night, is one such example.

The second programme on February 4 and 5 will be more diverse and modern, featuring "Times Dancers" choreographed by German-based Wang Xinpeng who also created "Raise the Red Lanterns," Balanchine's signature "Serenade," former Houston Ballet's artistic director Ben Stevenson production "Five Poems" and Chinese ballet "The Butterfly lovers."

Wang also takes a different approach to choreographing John Adams score for "Times Dancers." He attempts to feature and express power of a dream. The simple stage takes on the look of a white sheet of paper, while the dancers' use this blank canvas to create an abstract work of art on stage.

The National Ballet of China's ballerinas dance well in Balanchine's "Serenade" which has many delightful choreographies and demands all the ballerinas move and breathe like a single person. Zhu Yan will lead the dance.

"The Butterfly Lovers" was choreographed by Swedish Par Isberg according to the popular violin concerto of the same title by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, for the National Ballet of China and premiered in January 2001.

Isberg wrote in his choreographer's notes, "I have chosen, guided by the music, to create a free interpretation of the somber legend of 'Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai' for which I emphasized the loneliness and longing of the soul and the strength of the poetic love between the two bright souls. I found the story timeless and universal."

(China Daily 01/28/2005 page13)


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