Raise The Red Lantern
National Ballet of China
It has all the ingredients a gripping drama should – a tragic loss of young love, feudal oppression, betrayal, forgiveness and finally the acceptance of destiny – so it’s little wonder the National Ballet of China’s stirring presentation of Raise the Red Lantern earned the troupe a British National Dance Award nomination for Best Foreign Dance Company shortly after it was adapted from the acclaimed 1991 motion picture by Zhang Yimou.
Set in the 1920s, the three-act performance tells the story of a young girl forced to marry a wealthy house master and become his second concubine, despite her true love for a young Peking opera actor. After initial resistance, the girl eventually succumbs to her inevitable fate, but continues the affair in secret – however, not for long. Her master eventually discovers the truth and the young lovers are put to death. The moving tale is supplemented with a vivid colour palette and setting, traditional costumes, musical arrangements by NBC Symphony Orchestra director and chief conductor Zhang Yi, and choreography by NBC artistic director Feng Ying, all of which shine in the majestic surrounds of one Beijing’s most iconic modern landmarks - the latticed-domed, Jean Andre-designed National Grand Theatre Opera House. Whether you’re a dance, architecture or history aficionado, or simply seeking a stunning shot of Chinese culture, this wondrous performance raises the bar, along with the red lanterns, of course.