Butterfly Lovers flutter onto US stages

Updated: 2013-10-18 11:21

By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily USA)

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In the West, audiences are accustomed to Shakespeare's ill-fated love story Romeo and Juliet, but in the East there is a legendary couple known as the Butterfly Lovers.

Starting Sunday, the Shanghai Ballet will bring these star-crossed lovers to the US for a month of performances that will take the Chinese dance company crisscrossing from coast to coast.

The company will start its tour of the four-act The Butterfly Lovers at the Music Hall Center in Detroit.

Then the company will travel to Charleston, South Carolina, where the Charleston Concert Association (CCA) has invited the dancers to perform at the College of Charleston's Sottile Theatre.

"They're absolutely a fabulous company," Jason Nichols, CCA president, told China Daily. "They travel with exquisite sets and costumes, and the dancers are just perfection."

Nichols said he had booked the Shanghai Ballet the last time the company came to the US in 2002. This year, the company will kick off CCA's concert season.

"When I was aware that they were coming back to the US this year, of course I booked them immediately," Nichols said.

After the performance, CCA will hold a reception a block from the theater at the Francis Marion Hotel for the principal dancers of the company, as well as for CCA patrons.

Jade Knapp, former president of the Chinese Association in Greater Charleston, said she saw the company perform in 2002 and felt compelled to help gather the "close-knit" Charleston Chinese community together for this year's performance.

"I was really impressed with their performance," Knapp said. "I'm really happy to see the group coming back."

After Charleston, the Shanghai Ballet will be in Northridge at the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University to put on two different performances. On Oct 26, the company will dance La Sylphide - a romantic tale of a young man forever chasing an elusive, celestial being, only to encounter tragedy and heartache - and on Oct 27 it will dance Butterfly Lovers.

The University of Minnesota's Northrop Memorial Auditorium, which organizes a variety of concerts, ballet performances, and lectures for the community, will host the Shanghai Ballet at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, where the company will perform on Nov 12.

"We [at Northrop] always try to present some large-scale ballet company each year as part of our dance series," Christine Tschida, Northrop director, told China Daily. "We are aware that this is a really beautiful company, and prestigious, and they will do this new work that hasn't been seen before in our community, The Butterfly Lovers."

Northrop will host a pre-performance talk at Solera Restaurant in Minneapolis, where the artistic director Xin Lili will be on hand to discuss the company and her work.

"They don't tour very frequently in the US," Tschida said. "We hope to increase the awareness of their company."

The company will end its tour with Butterfly Lovers at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. There will also be a free pre-performance lecture held at the United Methodist Church on Nov 16 at 7 pm.

The Shanghai Ballet was organized in 1966.


(China Daily USA 10/18/2013 page1)