Ringing in the Chinese New Year with The Shanghai Ballet

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On January 29, 2020 The Shanghai Ballet performed “The Butterfly Lovers” at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

The Shanghai Ballet performed in the Tryon Festival Theatre of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Written By Zackarya Faci

The Shanghai Ballet brought a beautiful blend of choreography and story-telling to the stage Wednesday night. Through a magnificent dance routine, they were able to tell the story of two star-crossed lovers without ever uttering a single word. The movements of each character played a crucial role in portraying their emotion at the time. From the slow, gentle movements in a solemn scene, to the sharp, jarring movements in a tense one, the audience was always left knowing the exact emotions being felt on stage.

The performers taking a curtain call together after the ballet.

Not only was the movement an important factor of the ballet, but the costumes were as well. There was a wide variety of outfits throughout the ballet, but my favorite two were those of Ma and Liang. It was easy to tell that Liang was a caring protagonist from his simple, white outfit, while Ma was the aggressive antagonist with his warm-colored, complicated outfit. The two made such a clear distinction–especially when juxtaposed on stage.

The program and ticket stub for the performance.

In all honesty, the story did get a little confusing at times; thankfully, the program for the performance had the acts listed out with a small summary of each one. That being said, my favorite was ACT III. This was the climax of the whole performance and depicts the feud between Liang and Ma. The act was packed with quick movements and astonishing visuals. Near the end of the scene, as Liang lie there defeated, there was an unexpected strobe of white light accompanied by thunderous roars. The lights and sound were on point throughout the entire performance, but it was this moment in particular that truly gave me goosebumps.

This was the first ballet I have ever seen, and I am genuinely glad to have attended. Ballet has never sparked an interest for me in the past, as I simply saw it as another form of dance, but seeing The Shanghai Ballet perform has changed my mind. Seeing how well they could portray a story with only ballet was mind boggling to me–not to mention the difficult techniques and movements (such as walking about on only their tiptoes). This was an awesome experience, and I cannot wait to see what our class has in-store for next week!

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