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Chinese ballet commemorates literary giants

A series of activities are commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of two literary giants, Shakespeare from England and Tang Xianzu from China. Headlining the series is a touring show by the National Ballet of China, which just concluded in the UK to huge acclaim this weekend.

A ballet merging elements from both East and West was staged in London on Dec 3, for the conclusion of its UK tour. The ballet was adapted from the Kunqu classic “Peony Pavilion.” It is the signature work by China’s Ming dynasty playwright Tang Xianzu, a contemporary of Shakespeare.

“Peony Pavilion” tells the heart-wrenching love story of Du Liniang, a daughter from a rich family and a young scholar who she meets in her dreams. In the ballet, Du was played by three dancers, to portray different aspects of the heroine. The music composition brought together tunes from both Chinese opera and western music.

“I especially love how they combine the Chinese story and they bring Debussy and music from the West; they kind of made a really good combination, I thought,” said an audience member.

“The most frequent word that audiences used when praising the show was ‘amazing.’ The surreal imagination embodied in the show is the most touching part to them,” said Feng Ying, Director of National Ballet of China.

Bringing together elements from both East and West, the ballet is an apt commemoration for the two literary giants. It was staged in Manchester and London for a total of 13 shows.