Ballett Dortmund is is often called a miracle: the company is famous for its virtuoso technique and extraordinary repertoire.
The company’s artistic director and choreographer Xin Peng Wang is passionate about the greatest literary stories, and he refers to them almost every season. The ballet “Dream of the Red Chamber” is one of the Chinese literary masterpieces, a novel of the same name written in the 18th century by Cao Xueqin. The story of the rise and decline of the Jia family for Chinese people became the same book as “Eugine Onegin” or “War and Peace" for Russians. Xin Peng Wang often calls it “the heart of China” (and we can believe him, as this novel is written in his native language).
“I always asked myself: who am I in this story? The ballet should have something common with my life” — reflects Xin Peng Wang. Maybe for this reason, the Dortmund’s production (firstly created with Hong Kong Theater) is not only limited to authentic atmosphere of ancient China, though there are refined ball scenes with traditional long-sleeved dresses and “folk” palace and, of course, the story of Ming dynasty’s times.
The choreographer led the principal character, a young man Baoyu, through three centuries of complicated Chinese history: from imperial feudal epoch to the country of immense economic potential. Frozen in the past, traditions and hierarchies, customs and rituals, almost forgotten legends and non-healing wound of unfairly lost love. The man who fights for his self-determination experiences all of this.
Music for this almost cinematic ballet is composed by Michael Nyman, one of the most famous composer-minimalists, author of soundtracks for the films “The Piano”, “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” and “Gattaca”.
Choreography: Xin Peng Wang
Music: Michael Nyman
Staging and choreography: Xin Peng Wang
Idea, concept and scenario: Christian Baier
Set design: Frank Fellmann
Costumes: Han Chunqi
Light design: Leo Cheung
Video: Pyotr Grigorovich
Music direction: Motonori Kobayashi
Мировая премьера: November 10, 2012 Dortmund Theater
Duration: 1 hour 53 minutes
Baoyu: Mark Radjapov
Lin Dai Yü, his beloved: Monica Fotescu-Uta
Pao Tscha, his fiancee: Risa Tateish
The stone: Sergio Carecci
Ceremoniesmaster: Howard Quintero Lopez
Tai Tai, mistress of the house: Miranda Bodenhöfer
House keepers: Sayo Yoshida, Alessandra Spada
The old man: Ivaldo de Castro
The stones: Yuri Polkovodtsev, Giuseppe Salomone, Jie Qu, Gal Mahzari, Friedrich Pohl, Armen Gevorgyan
Princesses/Ladies/doubles of Lin Dai Yü: Stephanie Ricciardi, Svetlana Robos, ДDenise Chiarioni, Sara Coffield, Allessandra Spada, Marissa Parzei, acqueline Bâby, Nicola Wills, Luiza Yuk, Sayo Yoshida, Sarah Wandhöfer, Miranda Bodenhöfer, Risa Tateishi, Jelena-Ana Stupar
Princes/Men with rods: Eugeniu Cilenco, Sergio Carecci, Andrei Morariu, Howard Quintero Lopez, Giuseppe Ragona, Giuseppe Salomone, Yuri Polkovodtsev, Jie Qu, Friedrich Pohl, Gal Mahzari, Armen Gevorgyan , Gabriele Santoni
Dancers in green trico: Allessandra Spada, Marissa Parzei, Stephanie Ricciardi, Nicola Wills, Sergio Carecci, Eugeniu Cilenco, Gal Mahzari, Jie Qu
Female servants: Katharina Lührmann, Sarah Amelie Stücken, Monika Stahler, Viktoria Schuhmann, Karolin Kühn, Noa Rötzel, Juliane Goll, Jing Wu, Henrike Nettlenbusch, Vivien Marenberg, Joanna Mohamed
Male servants: Robert Lankester, Philipp Nettlenbusch
The plot of the ballet is concentrated around the story of the principal character, a young man Baoyu, a future head of the Jia family, and his two cousins — Lin Dai Yü and Pao Tscha. He is in love with the first one, but should marry the second one because of his social rang. And that is happening: the Pao Tscha’s family gives her in marriage by a trick. The deception is exposed too late (resembles the plot of another ballet, doesn’t it?), and his beloved dies of grief. The young man cannot live down this loss and after long expectation he departs in eternity through the gates that he had used to enter the world of humans.
Three acts are enframed with prologue and epilogue. There is a tale that celestial gates are made with 36501 stones, but one stone is left unused because of its uncouth form. Devoured by refuse, it decides to become a human destiny. Already in prologue Wang finds the impressive images: firstly, it seems that we see a huge grey stone, and only further we understand that it is a clew of dancers’ bodies. The clew continues to untangle until the last stone detaches and enters the world of humans through the grand gates.
In the first act, there is a folk palace on the stage that reflects richness and beauty of the Jia family, and the costumes made with great attention to every detail — refer us to the remote past. The green dress of Lin Dai Yü underlines her connection with nature; her dance is fragile and tender. The second cousin, Pao Tscha, even though she is a rival, is not represented as negative character. She also loves Baoyu and cannot live down the refusal not because of the severity of his heart, but because she clearly understands that their marriage should be arranged according to all social laws.
The begonia flowering in winter plays a special role here. If in the first act it is surrounded with the glass cage, then in the second act the begonia stays on the stage alone without (the) cage. Baoyu and Lin Dai Yü dance the last arduous and painful duet. Barely the circle of figures from the past is formed, the tree becomes a victim of city reconstruction works. When Baoyu goes upstairs, the snow from the building area starts to fall right on him as the snow was falling on the tree in the cage in the first act…The gates appear behind him, through which the stone has entered in the human world one day, now the gates show Baoyu the exit from this world. The third act is an impetuous journey through time. We see how the Jia’s house is submerged in a whirl of building scaffolds while extras dressed in different costumes indicate the changes of Chinese society happened during the last decades. Finally, the video projection shows how the palace is falling to pieces until only foundation stones stay. Among all this — Baoyu as aghost passing through three hundreds years of Chinese history.
When the begonia appears again in the epilogue, Baoyu, already old, seems to be staying and under the tree and waiting for Lin Dai Yü.