The Impeccable Shanghai Ballet
THE CHARLESTON CONCERT ASSOCIATION opened its season with The Shanghai Ballet’s full scale production of the classic, folk-styled The Butterfly Lovers to a full house at the Sottile Theatre. The performance by the 33-year-old company was as much a display of perfect craftsmanship as any Chinese art form. The vibrant and intricate costumes, the impressive set designs, and of course the elegant dancing were the elements of a jewel of an evening.
The story of The Butterfly Lovers is equal to an eastern Romeo and Juliet where young lovers meet in a chance encounter but are forced apart by family politics and ultimately taken from this world to another where their love endures (in this case a perpetual Spring as butterflies). Three main characters—the two lovers (Fan Xiaofeng and Wu Husheng) and an evil antagonist (Wu, Bin)—were supported by several demi-characters and a wonderful corps de ballet in the company of at least 30 dancers.
Each of the four scenes expressed a new season: the school days of Fall when the two young lovers meet, the romance of Summer, the conflict in Winter, and the perpetual memorialized love of Spring. The story moved seamlessly through the acts, although reading the extensive program notes helped make thiings clear. The opulent costumes included traditional fans and scarves that the dancers used with as much technical perfection as they did their bodies and, notably, their exquisite point work.
The several Pas de Deux of the young lovers danced by Fan Xiaofeng (as ZHU) and Wu Husheng (as LIANG) were spellbinding. Fan Xiaofeng is a delicate and gracious performer. Her high extensions, fluid arms, and dramatic nuances were radiant. Meanwhile, the regal LIANG displays perfect ballon (the appearance of being lightweight and light-footed) in his jumps and was the perfect partner in tender moments. Together their proficient and virtuosic execution was nicely complemented by the rest of the dancers. Few companies of this size demonstrate such immaculate unison of dancing among a full stage of performers who each shine in their details.
Kudos to the Charleston Concert Association which, for the last 77 years, has been committed to bringing quality dance to Charleston!
Learn about upcoming performances of the CHARLESTON CONCERT ASSOCIATION.