The Arts Centre's State Theatre was alive with colour and passion as choreographer Fei Bo brought his impeccable troupe of dancers from The National Ballet of China to the stage in his adaptation of The Peony Pavilion.
Written in the Sixteenth Century, The Peony Pavilion is China's most beloved and famous fairytale of love, life, passion, death and renewal. Having been written at the same time Shakespeare was completing Romeo & Juliet, The Peony Pavilion is the Chinese answer to the Western world's tale of star-crossed lovers.
The Peony Pavilion is not a traditional love story by any means. The heroine of the story Du Liniang (Zhu Yan) is dispatched into a dream world influenced by her passion, portrayed by alter ego The Flower Goddess (Zhang Jian). Joined onstage by Zhang Yuanyuan, whose powerful operatic vocals (using traditional Kun opera techniques) represent Liniang's moral responsibility and act as a voice of reason within her passionate dream world.
Combining stripped sets, and simple costuming, the bare stage allows for Bo's choreography to remain the focal point throughout the 90-minute performance, as the dancers create a visually stunning array of colour and movement.
The trio of protagonists (Yan, Jian and Yuanyuan) are simply exceptional in their execution of emotion and desire for Liu Mengmel (Li Jun) the handsome scholar who wins their heart within the fantasy dream world. During this strange and stunning visual display, the principal dancers and incredibly strong corps de ballet are nothing short of spectacular and cover a gamut of emotions with each arabesque and Grande Jette.
Fluid movement is the key to The Peony Pavilion, for each character never stops moving, just as they never stop feeling. Finding the physical within the spiritual, Bo and his creative team of dancers, directors and musicians have created something truly magnificent and perfectly unique, and have given Western audiences an ever so brief glimpse into traditional Chinese ballet.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents
The Peony Pavilion
The National Ballet of China with the National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra
Directed by Feng Ying
Venue: State Theatre | Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 15 – 18 Mar 2012
Tickets: $79 – $159