Famous Chinese dancer and choreographer Yang Liping will bring her show “Under Siege” to the Guangming Culture and Art Center next month.
As an experimental stage artwork, “Under Siege” is a fusion of contemporary dance, martial arts, Chinese folk music, Beijing opera, paper-cutting and installation art, blending traditional Chinese cultural symbols with modern dance movements.
It depicts a legendary war between the Chu and the Han kingdoms 2,200 years ago that changed the course of Chinese history. Through unremitting strategizing, scheming, laying ambush and fighting, the drama also reflects the everlasting confrontation of darkness and light in human nature.
Yang, chief choreographer and director, said “Under Siege” is a conceptual, experimental piece of performance art, which she created with an international perspective. She attempts to cast a cold vision of the desires and fears that manifest in the depths of the human heart, to hurt and to be hurt, through the story of the Chu-Han Contention, as a reflection on the present world.
Since its debut in 2015 in China, “Under Siege” has been widely hailed as an aesthetic feast of visual splendor. “Only showing the traditional Chinese elements onstage would be copying what other people have done. So I have melded them with a more contemporary way of passing the message to audience members. At the same time, I don’t feel Chinese audience members are ready for too many abstract things,” Yang says. “So there needs to be some traditional elements as well. It is a mixture of tradition and abstract. I’m striving for a Chinese way of developing contemporary art and dance.”
Tim Yip, who won the 2001 Academy Award for Best Art Direction in the feature film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” took the lead in costume and scenic designs for the dance drama. For Yip, “Under Siege” is a work that lets him return to tradition. He describes it as an integration of elements of Chinese culture and modern stage art.
The final sequence, in which the beaten soldiers of Chu struggle in red feathers that flutter and erupt around them, resembles a sea of blood and the unbearable lightness of life in the face of war. Another similarly eye-catching part of the scenic design features thousands of scissors hanging from the ceiling throughout the two-hour show, which highlight the conflict between the warring factions. “The installation art of scissors deepens the theme, as scissors imply danger and fear,” said Yang.
At 64, Yang is the director, choreographer and star of the famous performance art show “Dynamic Yunnan” which drew sellout crowds all over China. Between 2004 and 2008, she directed and choreographed the trilogy: “Dynamic Yunnan,” “Echoes of Shangri-La” and “Tibetan Myth.” In 2004, “Dynamic Yunnan” won five major awards at the National Lotus Awards, including the Gold Award for Dance Spectacular, Best Choreography and Best Female Performer.
Time: 8 p.m., April 12-13
Tickets: 80-680 yuan
Booking: WeChat account “GuangmingArtCenter”
Venue: Guangming Culture and Art Center, Guanguang Road, Guangming District (光明区观光路光明文化艺术中心)
Metro: Line 6 to Fenghuang Town Station (凤凰城站), Exit B