The Shanghai Ballet comes to town with their show The Butterfly Lovers!
Written by Moises Sedano
The show took place at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the Tryon Festival Theatre as the Shanghai Ballet wowed us with their movements and passion. These group of ballet dancers did an excellent job of bringing to life the story of two lovers who are denied of being together.
The Butterfly Lovers is a story about forbidden love. Zhu is a girl who dresses as a boy to attend school where she meets her eventual love interest Liang. Liang eventually finds out that Zhu is actually a girl and falls in love with her, as well. However, Zhu is set up to marry the school bully, Ma Wencai. This upsets Zhu as she refuses to marry him. Liang comes to propose to Zhu but her father does not approve and Ma’s servants beat Liang to death. On her wedding day with Ma, Zhu kills herself and is reunited with Liang. These forbidden lovers are reunited as they turn into butterflies.
This was a ballet show so no words were used to communicate emotion to the audience, instead they used movement. To exhibit sadness or distress, they usually throw their bodies to the ground or use facial expressions that display such emotion. For example, to exhibit confidence or power, Ma Wencai would stand up straight, shoulders sticking out and displaying a straight face showing no fear. To show love between Zhu and Liang, their dances would be slower and more intimate whereas Ma’s dances were solo and confident. Movements and facial expressions were used to display emotion to the audience.
All four acts were outstanding and well done but my favorite was definitely the third act. To me, this was the most exciting act as it was filled with action and drama. During act three, we saw a wedding ceremony unfold before our own eyes as Zhu refused to marry Ma. Liang comes into the scene to propose to Zhu but is beaten to death by Ma’s servants. So much drama! So much action! Definitely the most exciting act that takes the audience out of their seats in shock as Liang is killed off. My favorite for sure!
The story, in my opinion, has a great ending that wraps up the whole story! Zhu, while mourning, goes to Liang’s grave and decides to kill herself in the name of love. They are reunited in heaven and turn into butterflies. Life denied these two of true love, but the afterlife provides them with another chance. Star crossed lovers become butterfly lovers.
For more information on the show or the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, visit https://krannertcenter.com/events/shanghai-ballet-butterfly-lovers.