Daily Archives: February 3, 2020

Impressive Shanghai Ballet Performance : The Butterfly Lovers

The Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lovers was held at the Tryon Festival Theatre at the Kranner Art Center for the Performing Arts on January 29.

By Aejin Shin

waiting for the start of the performance with the booklet and ticket

Shanghai Ballet is one of the most famous ballet companies in the world organized in 1979. They present Chinese dance on the international stage. During their 40 years of history, they showed off many ballet productions. One of them is ‘The Butterfly Lovers’. This is true love story in which the main characters sacrifice themselves for each other.

The atmosphere was exciting, and people there were anticipating the performance

Since the ballet I’ve seen has mostly been Western-style ballet that is from Russia, this Shanghai ballet performance felt quite different from what I know. What was especially interesting was that the music and composition were completely different from Western ballet. Usually, in Russian-style ballet, the song with lyrics is rarely used. Instead, Western ballet uses classical music that is just instrumental. But the Shanghai ballet’s use of Chinese lyrics as background music was different. This gave the performance more like a play.

At the end of the ballet, all the characters come out to the stage and get applause from the audience

Also, the synopsis of the performance was impressive. I read the synopsis from the booklet they gave me before the performance started. Although the main characters did not make love in this life, it was interesting that they ended up being butterflies and making eternal love in other worlds. I thought this was similar to the story of Eros and Psyche in Greek and Roman mythology. But it would have been difficult to grasp the content without reading the synopsis because the dancers only expressed their emotions through languageless gestures. Details can be found on the website of Shanghai Ballet. (http://www.shanghaiballet.com/shblwt/n49/index.html)

The most eye-catching thing was the ballet costumes. The morning before the performance, I went to the Center and watched the process of preparing for the performance. At that time, I saw the costume making one by one, and it was very touching. That night, when I watched the Shanghai ballet, not only the main characters but also the supporting actors’ costumes, hair decorations, and every little prop was made up of many colors, and the glittering details caught my eye. It was like magic. Everything came together and I was so impressed by acting, composition, music, and the whole performance of the Shanghai ballet.

Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lovers

Written by Zeying Lang

An ancient tale from the East collides with the dancing form originated from the West. The Butterfly Lovers tells a love story between Zhu and Liang that happened in ancient China when it was a Patriarchal society.

Figure 1. Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lover. (https://krannertcenter.com/events/shanghai-ballet-butterfly-lovers)
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Becoming A Butterfly To Be With Your Soulmate

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez

The Shanghai Ballet Company is the state ballet company for Shanghai. They perform a blend of traditional and Western dance styles. The Shanghai Ballet presented The Butterfly Lovers on January 29, 2020 at The Krannert Center For Performing Arts. This is a story about two lovers that have to overcome obstacles to be together.

Visual of the butterfly costume
Event Ticket
Costumes we saw during our tour

I attended The Butterfly Lovers performed by the Shanghai Ballet Company. I had never gone to a ballet performance before so I was very excited entering the theater. This performance exceeded all my expectations so I am glad that this was my first ballet experience. My favorite element was the beautiful costumes. In the second image above you can see some pieces that the performers wore. In the top right corner you can vaguely see the green butterfly costumes. My favorite costume from this performance had to be the purple butterflies in the final act. The costumes were a vibrant shade of purple and covered in glitter. Purple is my favorite color and I love glitter so obviously these costumes caught my eye automatically.

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The Butterfly Lovers— An elegant yet tragic Chinese love story performed by the amazing Shanghai Ballet

“The Butterfly Lovers” which is a beautiful yet tragic Chinese love story, comparable to “Romeo and Juliet” in the West, was performed by the amazing Shanghai Ballet in the Tryon Festival Theater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts this January 29, 2020.


-Written by Weon Taek Na

A large audience forms a line to enter the Tryon Festival Theater to watch The Shanghai Ballet perform The Butterfly Lovers
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Forever Lovers are “The Butterfly Lovers”

Written by Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

The mesmerizing ballet, “The Butterfly Lovers ” brought about a unique form of story telling through dance. A brilliant performance taken place in the Tryon Festival Theater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on January 29, 2020.


A Delightful Start to the Ballet

The butterfly costumes introduced at the beginning of the ballet were my favorite because butterflies are my favorite insect. The butterfly costumes the ballerinas wore really caught my attention as they all scattered across the stage to show off their beautiful colors. As the lights went out and the curtain came up the performance began with a dance introducing the theme of the ballet.

Women dressed in butterfly costumes which captured the essence of the butterfly in all its grace and beauty. The dancers soon introduced the butterfly lovers Liang and Zhu along with the bully, Ma Wencai.

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The dilemma

Throughout the middle of the play, this issue seems to be the fact that Zhu is in love with Liang but he does not know because Zhu is dressed as a boy since back then girls were not able to have an education. This can be very noticeable in the ballet since all classmates in the first act were all boys. I was able to relate this to the movie Mulan when she ran away and dressed up as a boy soldier in place of her father only soon to fall in love with the general’s son. They too get close but he fails to recognize her true identity.

Act Three of the Ballet illustrated heartbreak along with reality. The heartbreak here being that Zhu could not be together with Liang given the situation she was put in by her father, an arranged marriage with Ma Wencai. Arranged marriages are the reality that many people had to go through in Chinese traditions along with other cultures.

By this part of the Ballet, the butterfly lovers have fallen in love with each other only to be torn apart by an arranged marriage. A truly saddening moment for two lovers, and a very realistic one as well, not being able to be together given financial differences. This part of the story could be noticeable as Zhu kept running back to her father, begging to not force her into the marriage. The movement of Zhou’s constant tugging at her father indicate that torment she felt at having to be forced into an arranged marriage.

As much as Zhu resists and fights her fathers decision she cannot seem to get out of the situation that she was forced into. Ma Wencai is thrilled by the arranged marriage, not bothered by the fact that Zhu does not want to marry him.

Liang could not have let go of his love without a fight and in that duel for that love he lost his life. The pain and suffering that comes along with losing a loved one affects people in different ways. The pain was too great for Zhu that she ended up taking her own life as well. A creative take on Romeo and Juliet in my opinion, turning to death in order to be with the one you love. For this reason, the fourth act had to be my favorite given the tragic yet heartfelt element it incorporated at the very end, lovers dying to be with each other in the afterlife.

Zhu and Liang reunited forever. In this afterlife Zhu and Liang transform into butterflies, hence the name “butterfly lovers”. They could not have a happy ending in real life so the afterlife brought them that. All is peaceful and happy for the butterfly lovers as everyone is dancing in colorful costumes to joyous music.

Overall, the ballet was a wonderful experience filled with humor, drama, love, death, and happiness. At the very end of the show the crowd clapped loudly for minutes as the performers took their bows. They even got standing ovations from people in the audience which proves that the ballet is a worthwhile event to take the time to watch with family, friends, or even oneself.

Ringing in the Chinese New Year with The Shanghai Ballet

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.

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Shanghai Ballet the Butterfly Lovers: The new Romeo and Juliet with a Chinese butterfly twist.

I must admit that I am not one to voluntarily attend artistic events such as The Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lovers. However, I couldn’t help but feeling like I was in the middle of a monarch butterfly sanctuary throughout the whole show. I did not have the slightest clue on what the show would entail besides ballerinas however, I was received with the story of two damned lovers, astonishing choreography, heavy Chinese culture, and an unforgettable experience that one must take the time to experience.

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An Internal Journey: Music from Mozambique (makeup event)

On February 1st, Nyttu Chongo, a young musician from Mozambique, along with Jason Finkelman, gave a one-hour wonderful concert of music from Mozambique in the auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.

Written by: Yushan Guo

To perform music from Mozambique, the performers employed lots of traditional musical instruments, such as timbila, djembe, kankubwe, and so on. Each of them has a unique and arresting sound. The stage was designed in a very simple fashion. And there were no dazzling lighting effects, just the two performers playing music. In this way, the audiences would fully indulge themselves in the beauty of the music itself.

This photo was taken 2 minutes before the concert began. You can see that there are many exquisite traditional musical instruments.

After a brief period of greetings and introductions, Nyttu and Jason soon began to perform the first song. Nyttu called this song “Peace”, saying that this is the song that helped him searching for the inner self. The instrument he played was an m’bira, an instrument that looked like a thumb piano and produced a very light and crisp sound that sounded like tiny murmurs of a brook. The instrument that Jason played was kankubwe, a large bow-like instrument that produced a relatively heavier sound. I might not understand the specific cultural values behind this song. However, the two performers worked with each other in such a perfect fashion that the song was not only mentally soothing but also brought everyone in the auditorium to a deeper state of a peaceful mind.

After a short talk between Nyttu and Jason as a short intermission, Nyttu picked up a different instrument. They started to perform a song that was relatively more rhythmic than the last one. As an audience, I have to admit that I have little experience with the world music genre. The kinds of music I listen to the most are progressive rock and progressive metal. However, I was surprised to detect that several common elements exist between this music and the music that I usually listen to. The most obvious one is the use of flexible rhythmic patterns. This truly caught my focused attention. Speaking broadly, it was the free and creative expression of Nyttu’s music that truly captured me.

Nyttu Chongo and Jason Finkelman playing music.

In the very last part of this concert, Nyttu changed his instrument into a timbila, which looked sort of like a xylophone but was slightly larger. And Jason changed his instrument into a djembe. The last song they performed was quite a rhythmical and upbeat one. The music was very contagious that lots of the audiences could not help nodding their heads, clapping their hands or tapping their feet along with the beat. After Nyttu’s fervid invitation, some audiences went from their seats to the stage and started to dance along with the song. It was beautiful to see that people from different age or ethnic groups were amazed by the energy of the music. Finally, the concert ended in a bright and cheerful atmosphere. Nyttu and Jason worked perfectly to deliver a concert that captured the audiences and brought them into an internal journey to seek the self deep within their minds.

This was the very last part of the concert. Some audiences were dancing along with the music.

For more information regarding this event or the Spurlock Museum, please visit: https://www.spurlock.illinois.edu/events/event.php?ID=1760