Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 19 News List

A slice of history is brought to life

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Part fact, part fiction, the Taipei Chinese Orchestra and Neo-Classical Dance Company's colorful production of the story of Tsao Pi and Chen Mi sees new life breathed into the classical tale of love and betrayal.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CKS CULTURAL CENTER

The National Concert Hall (國家戲劇院) will play host to the combined talents of The Taipei Chinese Orchestra (TCO, 台北市立國樂團) and the Neo-Classical Dance Company (新古典舞團) this weekend, when, under the guidance of composer Wong Cheng-ping (王正平) and choreographer Liu Feng-shueh (劉鳳學), the troupes bring the 1,800 year old tale of Tsao Pi and Chen Mi (曹丕與甄宓) to life.

Set in the Kingdom of Wei (魏), which from 220 to 265AD was one of the Three Kingdoms (三國時代), Tsao Pi and Chen Mi employs a mixture of factual and fictional events in order to weave together a melodramatic triangle of love, jealousy and power between the emperor, Tsao Pi (曹丕), his brother, the scholar Tsao Zhi (曹植) and the beautiful maiden Chen Mi (甄宓).

The plot revolves around the emperor and his brother's passion for Chen Mi. Insanely jealous of Chen's love for his brother, the emperor at first plans to murder his own kin. Escaping his brother's murderous wrath by composing a poem, the famous Seven Step Poem (七步詩), the scholar is able to continue his relationship with Chen. Fate, however, intervenes, when, unable to kill his brother the emperor decides to murder the beautiful Chen instead.

One of the nation's leading choreographers of historical dance, Lin has spent much of the past 30 years poring over scarce historical records that are often vague and difficult to interpret, in order to authentically recreate the music and dance of ancient China. The results of Lin's breakthrough finds have enabled her to successfully stage what many scholars believe to be some of the most breathtaking and accurate reproductions of antiquated dance ever performed on the contemporary stage.

For her latest venture, however, Lin has created a breathtaking four-act dance production that employs a mixture of both precise classical and stylized modern dance routines to recreate the events that took place nearly 2,000 years ago in the Kingdom of Wei.

Like Lin's dance routines, Wong's score is also part classical and part contemporary. Although the core of Wong's compositions are modern he makes ample use of the Chinese sitar and other classical Chinese instruments to bring new life to the age-old tale. Interwoven into this already weird and wonderful musical jumble are aspects of Beijing Opera, Cantonese classical music and traditional Chinese folk music.

Historical purists might find some of the events that unfold on the stage of the National Theatre this weekend hard to swallow, but fans of classical opera and modern dance alike will find that Taipei Chinese Orchestra and Neo-Classical Dance Company's stylized joint production is hugely entertaining.

Performance notes:

What: The Taipei Chinese Orchestra and Neo-Classical Dance Company's production of Tsao Pi and Chen Mi

Where: The National Theatre (°ê®aÀ¸¼@°|)

When: At 7:30pm tonight and tomorrow. There will be a matinee performance at 2:30pm on Sunday, May 9

Cost: Between NT$300 and NT$1,500 and are available from the CKS Cultural Center booking office

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