by Paula Citron.
Dream of the Red Chamber
Beijing Friendship Dance Company
Choreographed by Zhao Ming
Composed by Su Cong
Starring Zhang Jin, Shan Chong and Yuan Lin
At the Toronto Centre for the Arts
Asian countries send cultural ambassadors in advance of significant events. Shanghai will host the 2010 World’s Fair, and touring the globe to bring attention to this up-coming Expo is the 85-member Beijing Friendship Dance Company and its lavish production of Dream of the Red Chamber. The impressive, disciplined ensemble is clearly well-schooled in ballet and Chinese arts. No expense was spared in this production, and the sets and costumes are sumptuous to say the least.
The heart of the full-length ballet is one of China’s most beloved novels. Rendering into dance an 18th century masterpiece with 30 main characters and 400 minor ones is no mean feat, but choreographer Zhao Ming has cleverly concentrated on the central love triangle between a young man and his two cousins. Composer Su Cong’s lush score is filled with dramatic moments.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect are the excellent dance and acting skills of the leading players. Zhao’s choreography does tell a poignant story.