Shenzhen Government Online
Dance ‘A Dream of Red Mansions’ to be staged | April 15-16
From: Shenzhen Daily
Updated: 2022-03-23 14:03

“A Dream of Red Mansions,” one of the four great Chinese classical novels, written by Cao Xueqin during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), has been adapted into various art forms. Now, a dance drama of the same title and produced by the Jiangsu Center for the Performing Arts will be staged in Shenzhen next month.

“A Dream of Red Mansions” (also translated as “Dream of the Red Chamber”), written sometime in the middle of the 18th century, has long been considered a masterpiece of Chinese literature. The novel is believed to be semi-autobiographical, mirroring the rise and decline of Cao’s own family and, by extension, of the Qing Dynasty. The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters and psychological scope, but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese society.

The Jiangsu Center for the Performing Arts gathered young Chinese artists to join the dance drama, such as director Li Chao, scriptwriters Cui Lei and Li Yicheng and choreographer Li Xing.

Li Sisi, vice general manager of the Jiangsu Center for the Performing Arts, said the new version aims to attract a younger audience. Director Li Chao said he and lead dancer Li Xing, who is also the joint director, spent much time studying the original novel. “The 12 beauties in the novel impressed us most,” said Li Chao. “We want to highlight their personal fates, and allow them to communicate with the audience.”

Li Chao said the costumes were designed strictly in accordance with the original novel to help audience members build an emotional connection with the characters.

“The costumes, earrings and accessories are all based on descriptions in the novel,” said Li Chao. “Some audience members might be concerned that many of the costumes are elaborate, even bulky, and may restrict certain movements by actors. But ‘restriction is the touchstone for genius’ as I was taught by my teacher. I hope the dancers will give full play to their ability within these restrictions.”

Li Xing continued: “If you observe how the dancers move on stage, you will find that they keep their upper body still, while allowing the lower body to move quickly in a flowing motion. These movements are featured in traditional Chinese opera, which suits the 12 beauties’ images.”

Li Xing said the exquisiteness and restraint of the 12 beauties is the feminine element of the novel which connects with modern audiences. As for his role, Li described Jia Baoyu as the most complicated character he has ever played. “Preparing for the role, I questioned myself about the rationality of Jia’s manners and behaviors,” he said.

Dancer Li Yanchao, reflecting on her portraying the character Lin Daiyu in “A Dream of Red Mansions,” said: “As a 30-year-old dancer, I feel that this is the right age to pick up the role of Lin Daiyu. She has always been my favorite character. Despite her talent and beauty, some readers say that Lin is aloof, self-righteous and capricious. But to me, she has a rich inner world of her own.”

“For a dancer, it’s a challenge to present her emotions on stage,” Li Yanchao said. “Common people might hug each other to express affection. But Lin Daiyu expressed her strong feeling by handing over a cup of wine to Jia Baoyu with a gentle handshake. After fully understanding Lin Daiyu, I often have to restrain emotions rather than letting them out on stage,” she added.

Time: 8 p.m., April 15-16

Tickets: 280-880 yuan

Booking: WeChat account “深圳滨海演艺中心”

Venue: Bay Opera of Shenzhen, Bao’an District (宝安区深圳滨海演艺中心)

Metro: Line 5 to Baohua Station (宝华站), Exit A