‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ to be staged as art on the toe

Members of National Ballet of China are seen on February 2, 2023, during a rehearsal of Dream of the Red Chamber, an epic masterpiece in Chinese literature. It will be staged on February 10, 2023 in Beijing. Photo: Courtesy of Shi Ren


Dream of the Red Chamber
an epic masterpiece in Chinese literature, will be staged as an original ballet show staged by the National Ballet of China (NBC) on February 10, announced the troupe at a media event on Thursday.

The ballet dance drama will present this pinnacle of Chinese classic novels, which has a far-reaching influence and world-renowned reputation, through a romantic Western-style narration. The combination surely poses a challenge for all the creators and dancers.

“I believe that many ballet directors regard the adaptation of the classic Dream of the Red Chamber as the ultimate goal of their career as the work enjoys a high status in the hearts of the Chinese people. It is also sure to be greatly appealing to see the use of Western ballet to tell a classic Chinese story,” chief choreographer Tong Ruirui told the Global Times on Thursday.

Members of National Ballet of China are seen on February 2, 2023, during a rehearsal of Dream of the Red Chamber, an epic masterpiece in Chinese literature.  It will be staged on February 10, 2023 in Beijing.  Photo: Courtesy of Shi Ren

Members of National Ballet of China are seen on February 2, 2023, during a rehearsal of Dream of the Red Chamber, an epic masterpiece in Chinese literature. It will be staged on February 10, 2023 in Beijing. Photo: Courtesy of Shi Ren

Behind the ballet is a heavyweight cast team including stage designer Liu Xinglin from the Central Academy of Drama, composer Ye Xiaogang and costume designer Yang Donglin, who designed the costumes for the hit poetic dance performance The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting.

This performance will also be a visual feast with carefully designed winter snow stage dressing, and the costumes of the characters which focus on a “combination of Eastern and Western aesthetics,” when the costume designer Yang integrated Chinese silk into the ballet skirts.

One of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature first published in 1791, the Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin and Gao E of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), narrates a story through the perspective of Jia Baoyu, a young man from a wealthy family, and his tangled relationship with Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai. It’s an epic showing the beauty of women and complicated ancient Chinese society from all angles.

The show will be staged at the Tianqiao Theater in Beijing from February 10 to 18.

“NBC has done a remarkable thing in adapting this wonderful classic into a ballet. I hope it’ll help the story gain wider recognition around the world,” commented Zhang Qingshan, president of the Chinese Society of Dream of the Red Chamber.

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