The Jakarta Post
Beauty in motion: Dancers from the National Ballet of China, the only national ballet group in the East Asian country, peform during the “Raise the Red Lantern” show in Jakarta on Wednesday night. The dance has been staged 400 times in cities around the world. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)
A ballet from the repertoire of the National Ballet of China graced the Ciputra Artpreneur Theater in South Jakarta on Wednesday and Thursday, making audiences swoon with its passionate narration of pride, jealousy and the sad love charade of a young concubine.
Raise the Red Lantern, often referred to as The Red Lantern, has become a signature performance of the ballet company and has been staged over 500 times around the world since 2001.
The theatrical dance combines ballet with traditional Chinese elements, including shadow play, Peking opera and acrobatics.
Presented by the Chinese Embassy with support from the Association of Indonesia-China Economic, Social and Cultural Cooperation, the shows were free of charge as part of a cultural exchange program between the two countries to coincide with the celebration of 67 years of bilateral diplomatic ties.
The organizer also invited various communities such as dance students and marginalized children to attend the practice and rehearsal sessions.
(Read also: 'Raise the Red Lantern': The national ballet of China)
It was a full house for the first show on Wednesday, which was opened by Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng.
“[The ballet company] offers not only its outstanding artistic skill, but more importantly a presentation of modern China and the embodiment of lasting friendship between our people.
“I believe its performance in Jakarta will not only be a strong boost to cultural exchanges but also a new bridge of communication between our people and a new chapter in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road,” he said in his opening remarks.
(Read also: Promoting the 21st century Maritime Silk Road to ASEAN)
Representing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani, who highlighted the contribution of the two countries to the success of the first Asia-Africa Conference in 1955, due to the presence of China’s then prime minister Zhou Enlai and Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno.
“They worked together to realize friendships among the newly independent countries and to build fair and equal relations with other countries. I hope we can continue the cooperation together with other neighboring countries in maintaining world order and peace,” she said.
The granddaughter of Sukarno attended the performance along with her mother and the country’s fifth president, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and her uncle Guruh Soekarnoputra.
The Red Lantern is the stage version of Zhang Yimou’s movie of the same title released in 1991. The critically acclaimed movie was based on a novel titled Wives and Concubines authored by Su Tong.
The story follows a young girl forced to become the second concubine of a lord. She then reunites with her childhood boyfriend, an actor in an opera troupe. They continue their relationship in secret amid the competition between the lord’s wife and first concubine to win his affections.
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