“Dream of Red Mansions” National Dance Drama Wins 13th Chinese Dance “Lotus Award”
The national dance drama “Dream of Red Mansions,” renowned for its unique stage design and powerful performances, recently won the prestigious 13th Chinese Dance “Lotus Award” Dance Drama Award. In celebration of this success, the production reached its 100th performance at the Beijing Tianqiao Art Center.
The standout feature of the production is the shiny curtain at the front of the stage. Composed of square acrylic sheets arranged one after another, the curtain displays a gold-plated film that alternates between shining goldenly and rippling under the multimedia projection. It presents a remarkable combination of metal and glass, creating a visually stunning effect.
After Chapter 10 “Reunion,” the curtain comes down, and the projections of the pavilions, verandas, and waterside pavilions outlined in gold appear alongside the figure of the Twelve Hairpins. These characters, who play a significant role in “Dream of Red Mansions,” either look back or gaze into the distance before disappearing like bright fireworks falling or golden quicksand passing away, leaving behind a dream-like atmosphere.
Director Li Xing, the creative force behind the national dance drama, shared that his intention was to express his sincere understanding and feelings about “Dream of Red Mansions.” However, the audience’s enthusiastic response and emotional connection to the production exceeded his expectations. The careful adaptation of the classic work, capturing its essence and incorporating the adapter’s personal expression, formed a seamless connection between the original work, the creator’s vision, and the audience’s understanding.
While many adaptations of “Dream of Red Mansions” primarily focus on the love story of Bao Dai and the rise and fall of the Jia family, the national dance drama takes a different approach. Here, the Twelve Hairpins of Jinling, the women oppressed by society and power in “Dream of Red Mansions,” take center stage. Baoyu, the central character, becomes a recaller, observer, and narrator, leading the audience on a journey through youth, paying tribute to women and life itself.
The dance drama breaks conventions in its narrative techniques by integrating the characteristics of Zhanghui novels, utilizing concise brushwork to capture complex elements, and layering a sense of tragic power. The depiction of the prosperous but declining Jia family and the withering youth of women speaks to Cao Xueqin’s lament about the impermanence of life and the ephemeral nature of dreams.
The stage design of the national dance drama skillfully blends traditional aesthetics with modern and youthful brushstrokes. The curtain, screens, and various stage props, such as long desks, folding fans, and palace lanterns, create an artistic and visually captivating experience. The “Garden Tour” chapter features the Twelve Hairpins, who rarely appeared together in the original work, dancing in unison, while the “Flower Burial” chapter conveys the power of youth and life through a vibrant, modern dance performance.
With its 100th performance milestone and recognition from the 13th Chinese Dance “Lotus Award,” the national dance drama “Dream of Red Mansions” continues to captivate audiences with its unique take on a classic tale. Through powerful performances and innovative stage design, it stays true to the essence of the original work while leaving a lasting impact on viewers.