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
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.
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.
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.