Sadler’s Wells and Asia House present
Raise the Red Lantern
National Ballet of China
Sadler’s Wells Theatre
11 - 15 November at 7.30pm and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm
Tickets £10 – £40. Ticket Office 020 7863 8000 www.sadlerswells.com
National Ballet of China, the Beijing-based national ballet company brings its major production of Raise the Red Lantern to Sadler’s Wells in November. The ballet is based on Zhang Yimou’s 1991 award-winning film of the same name. National Ballet of China chief Zhao Ruheng invited the celebrated film director Zhang Yimou to create a Chinese ballet for the twenty-first century, which takes a fresh look at 1920s rural China.
Raise the Red Lantern focuses on a world of complicated emotions and female rivalry. This haunting tale focuses on the life of a beautiful concubine who is sold by her mother to an old man. She enters a stifling world of jealousy and resentment where three women compete for the raised red lanterns which signals they are favoured by their master. Her resolve to survive the conspiracies and challenge female subservience in Chinese culture creates an atmosphere of permanent intrigue.
This unconventional production breaks new ground for Western audiences. The ballet combines the conventions of Western ballet with Chinese iconography and elements of the Peking Opera.
Zhang Yimou is one of China’s leading directors. He began his career as a cinematographer and is famed for creating beautiful images to which his 1991 film and now his ballet pay testament. The aesthetic focus of the production has a clear cinematic element and is carefully balanced with the story and choreography. The ballerinas wear traditional Chinese dresses - striking cheongsams in vibrant colours. The set design is exquisite with the rich colours of the stage set complemented by impressive lighting techniques. When the red lanterns are raised the stage is breathtakingly bathed in red.
As suggested by the title, the colour red suffuses the production – symbolising sexual power, anger, passion and darkly the terrible, tragic end to this bitter tale.
Stefan Kosciuszko, Chief Executive of Asia House commented “This stylish production shows creative Chinese talent at its best. I would like to acknowledge the help of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in bringing this world class event to London.”
PRESS NIGHT: Tuesday 11 November, 7.30pm
For further press information, or to arrange interviews please contact Sally Partridge, Sadler’s Wells Press Officer, 020 7863 8113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on Asia House please contact Clare Frankenberg, Asia House Programme Coordinator, 020 7499 1287 or Clare.email@example.com
Pictures: Registered publications can download images from EPO ISDN Bulletin Board. Photographs available digitally via EPO Online 020 7968 1560 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Ballet of China European Tour Schedule
8 October – 25 November 2003
8 – 12 October LYON, MAISON DE LA DANSE
14 October AVIGNON, OPERA-THEATRE D’AVIGNON
17 October NEVERS, MAISON DE LA CULTURE
21 October MONTPELLIER, LE CORUM
25 – 31 October ITALY tbc
4-5 November DIJON, AUDITORIUM
11-15 November LONDON, SADLER’S WELLS
18 November VICHY, OPERA DE VICHY
21-25 November PARIS, CHATELET
Notes to Editors
National Ballet of China founded in 1959, is China’s foremost ballet company. The company were last seen in the UK in 1986 and the performances of Raise the Red Lantern at Sadler’s Wells are the only UK dates in their European tour this autumn. The dancers of the National Ballet of China are all graduates of the Beijing Dance Academy. Study at the Academy involves 6-8 years of training. Under the direction of Zhao Ruheng the company are committed to addressing China’s cultural heritage in their work and to creating Chinese ballets for world audiences.
The celebrated yet controversial director Zhang Yimou, is well known for films of dazzling visual beauty. Raise the Red Lantern is his second stage venture. Yimou graduated from the Photography department of the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 and began his career as a cinematographer. He made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum. In 1991 his film Raise the Red Lantern brought him and his lead actress Gong Li world recognition. For the ballet he took his vision of the film, slightly altered the storyline and transformed it into a ballet. The 1991 film is an adaptation of Su Tong’s novel and won a British Academy Award for best foreign film in 1992.
Zhao Ruheng (Company Director) has spent nearly her entire life with the National Ballet of China. In 1961 she became the youngest principal dancer with the National Ballet of China after graduating from the Beijing Dance Academy in the same year. She danced with the company for 11 years performing principal roles in Swan Lake, Le Corsaire and Giselle until a leg injury put an end to her career as a dancer. She was appointed as Executive Vice-Director in 1993 and was promoted to Director in the following year.
Wang Xinpeng (Choreographer) trained at the Beijing Dance Academy from 1985 to 1989 and then studied modern dance at the Folkwanghochschule in Essen, Germany from 1989 to 1990. He has created works for Hong Kong Ballet, Het National Ballet Amsterdam and Royal Ballet of Flanders as well as being a long-time associate of National Ballet of China. For Raise the Red Lantern he has collaborated with Zhang Yimou.
Qigang Chen (Composer) started his studies in music when the Cultural Revolution broke out in China. His father, a painter and calligrapher was deemed bourgeois and sent to a labour camp. The young Qiang Chen was kept in confinement and underwent ‘ideological re-education’. He entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1977 and in 1983 won a scholarship to study at the Ecole Normale de Musique and at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.
Asia House are co-presenting Raise the Red Lantern at Sadler’s Wells. Asia House is the only pan-Asian organisation in Britain promoting a greater understanding of the rich and varied cultural economies of Asia. Asia House runs a lively programme of over 100 events annually, covering economics, politics, visual and performing arts to literature, food, film and fashion.
‘Asia House will be the “must visit centre” for all who have an interest in obtaining, developing and imparting their contacts, knowledge and understanding of business, diplomatic and cultural interaction between Asia and Europe’.