Shanghai Ballet Presents T’ang Dynasty Theme November 1-2

22 Oct

Cal Performances is bringing the Shanghai Ballet to the Bay Area November 1-2 for their second visit. The first was at the Flint Center in Cupertino, June, 2007, enjoyed by predominantly Chinese audiences.

The ballet scheduled is the same one I saw those nearly six and a half years ago, Butterfly Lovers, a tale of lovers across social class and family restrictions. While I do not have the full libretto at hand, the hero was a scholar or tutor and the heroine was the sheltered daughter of a wealthy family. Family was not about to wait for scholar to pass the Imperial exams.

My memory was one of the exquisite employment of the pastel colors one also sees in pre-World War II enameled ceramics, bright, light and cheerful. The dancers, as one can easily guess, are carefully chosen and nurtured, their slender physiques, unusually flexible as well as classically schooled.

The Cal Performances press notice credits the ballet’s choreography to the
company’s artistic director Xin Lili, the music by Chinese composer Xu Jianqiang, blending Chinese instruments with a Western style orchestra.

Expanding on the brief visit, Cal Performances, The Center for Chinese Studies, East Asian Languages, and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will hold a symposium November 1, 4-6 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum Theatre. The gathering will concern the joining of Chinese and Western
cultural elements in depicting Chinese fairy tales, the adaptation of Chinese folk melodies to Western symphonic music forms, and, of course, Western Classical Ballet as it meets Chinese movement style.

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