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Yang Liping: Under Siege


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I saw this on opening night. I can't access the two reviews which appear in Links today but the review in the Evening Standard largely reflects my feelings about the performance. It's a theatrical work more than a dance work with elements of Chinese opera, acrobatics and lengthy musical interludes. There was a synopsis in the programme but I didn't find it very illuminating. The subject matter formed the basis of the film Farewell My Concubine but, unfortunately, I had read the synopsis of Raise the Red Lantern beforehand instead! The staging (Tim Yip) was spectacular and there was some very arresting choreography. In particular, the portrayal of the demon / alter ego of one of the characters was amazingly well done with one dancer dressed completely in white and with whitened skin and the other dressed completely in black and with blackened skin (and no, this was not 'Blackface' IMO). The male dancer in the role of the Concubine was very affecting as well as astonishingly elastic. However, I can't deny that the work (100 minutes long without an interval) was hard going at times, particularly during the vocal parts (which were unintelligible to me).

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