Written by Lydia Amezcua Ramirez
The mesmerizing ballet, “The Butterfly Lovers ” brought about a unique form of story telling through dance. A brilliant performance taken place in the Tryon Festival Theater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on January 29, 2020.
A Delightful Start to the Ballet
The butterfly costumes introduced at the beginning of the ballet were my favorite because butterflies are my favorite insect. The butterfly costumes the ballerinas wore really caught my attention as they all scattered across the stage to show off their beautiful colors. As the lights went out and the curtain came up the performance began with a dance introducing the theme of the ballet.
Throughout the middle of the play, this issue seems to be the fact that Zhu is in love with Liang but he does not know because Zhu is dressed as a boy since back then girls were not able to have an education. This can be very noticeable in the ballet since all classmates in the first act were all boys. I was able to relate this to the movie Mulan when she ran away and dressed up as a boy soldier in place of her father only soon to fall in love with the general’s son. They too get close but he fails to recognize her true identity.
Act Three of the Ballet illustrated heartbreak along with reality. The heartbreak here being that Zhu could not be together with Liang given the situation she was put in by her father, an arranged marriage with Ma Wencai. Arranged marriages are the reality that many people had to go through in Chinese traditions along with other cultures.
By this part of the Ballet, the butterfly lovers have fallen in love with each other only to be torn apart by an arranged marriage. A truly saddening moment for two lovers, and a very realistic one as well, not being able to be together given financial differences. This part of the story could be noticeable as Zhu kept running back to her father, begging to not force her into the marriage. The movement of Zhou’s constant tugging at her father indicate that torment she felt at having to be forced into an arranged marriage.
Liang could not have let go of his love without a fight and in that duel for that love he lost his life. The pain and suffering that comes along with losing a loved one affects people in different ways. The pain was too great for Zhu that she ended up taking her own life as well. A creative take on Romeo and Juliet in my opinion, turning to death in order to be with the one you love. For this reason, the fourth act had to be my favorite given the tragic yet heartfelt element it incorporated at the very end, lovers dying to be with each other in the afterlife.
Overall, the ballet was a wonderful experience filled with humor, drama, love, death, and happiness. At the very end of the show the crowd clapped loudly for minutes as the performers took their bows. They even got standing ovations from people in the audience which proves that the ballet is a worthwhile event to take the time to watch with family, friends, or even oneself.