Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 15 News List

`Peony Pavilion' back by demand

By Diane Baker  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung City Ballet has resurrected a popular classic.

Photo: courtesy of Kaohsiung City Ballet

The Kaohsiung City Ballet (KCB, 高雄城市芭蕾舞團) has gone back to the classics for this year's tour. Not the Western ballet canon, but a classic of Chinese literature: The Peony Pavilion, Mudanting (牡丹亭).

Mudanting is the love story of Du Li-niang (杜麗娘), the daughter of a top official, who falls in love with a man she meets in a dream and then pines away when she is unable to recapture the enchantment of that dream. There is a happy ending, but not before facing ghosts, a trip to hell, life-risking adventure and all the other good elements of a romance.

Mudanting was and remains the most popular of Ming Dynasty plays. Popular as a Chinese opera, it has also been an inspiration for countless painters and poets.

It was the inspiration for two contemporary dance programs in Taipei this year, including one by dancer/choreographer Lin Hsiang-hsiu (林向秀). Lin also worked as a choreographer on the KCB ballet, which is touring the country this month and next.

Lin was responsible for all the duets between the main character Du Li-niang (杜麗娘) and her lover, as well as some of the solos. Even though Lin is a disciple of the Jose Limon technique, she has a strong grounding in ballet. She said she stuck to the classical technique, though with a twist.

"Some of the lifts may look like they are straight out of Giselle or Swan Lake, but there is a shift - a flexing of a foot or a hand, so it's a little different. There is one where the dancer wraps her foot like a hook around her partner's neck that is more like something you would see in ice skating," Lin said.

"Each main character has a signature musical theme that the composer gave them, and in my choreography they each have a signature movement," Lin said.

Performance Notes:

What: Kaohsiung City Ballet, The Peony Pavilion

WHEN AND WHERE: Tomorrow at 7:30pm at the Chungli Arts Center (中壢藝術館音樂廳), 16 Chungmeih Rd, Chungli City, Taoyuan County (桃園縣中壢市中美路16號); Friday, Sept. 21 at 7:30pm at the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center Performance Hall (台南市立文化中心演藝廳), 332 Chunghua E Rd Sec 3, Tainan City (台南市中華東路三段332號); Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:30pm at the Chi-Teh Hall, National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center, Kaohsiung City (高雄中正文化中心至德堂), 67 Wufu 1st Rd, Kaohsiung City (高雄市五福一路67號);

Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:30pm at the Taichung Chungshan Hall (台中市中山堂), 98, Hsuehshi Rd, Taichung City (台中市學士路98號);

Sunday, Oct. 28 at 2:30pm at the Chiayi Performing Arts Center (嘉義縣表演藝術中心), 265, Jianguo Rd Sec 2, Minsyong Township, Chiayi County (嘉義縣民雄鄉建國路二段265號)

TICKETS: NT$300, 500, 800, available through

"The ballet is very true to Mudanting. The artistic director, KCB founder Chang Hsiu-ru (張秀如), really wants the audience to know the story through dance," Lin said.

"[Chang] had a very clear idea of what she wanted, the format of the show and what the story was to be. We all met so many times before we actually started to work on the show," Lin said.

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