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Director Zhang Yimou Fine Tunes 'Red Lantern' Ballet

Prestigious Chinese director Zhang Yimou is adding the final touches to a ballet of Raise the Red Lantern, which is expected to debut in Europe in October.

The ballet, adapted from a popular Chinese film directed by Zhang Yimou, was originally staged in May 2001 and drew wide attention in Chinese-speaking regions worldwide.

Raise the Red Lantern is set in a feudal Chinese wealthy household in the 1920s, and details struggles of a beautiful, charming and defiant concubine Songlian against the traditional female role of subservience and the feudal traditions governing Chinese society at the time.

The tragic ending of the heroine proves that the burden of centuries is too powerful a force to beat. 

The ballet, echoing the dramatic cinematic scenes of the film, features a integration of tradition Peking opera music and scenes, traditional Chinese architecture and costume, and richand effective lighting effects.

Zhang and his colleagues have made some minor revisions in the ballet during the last two years and the most recent overhaul focuses mainly on choreography, music and plots.

"The altered story-line is more distinct and choreography more animated and life-like than the previous version," said Zhang Yimou.

China Central Ballet Troupe would perform the dance with an all-star cast and expected to turn Raise the Red Lantern into a Chinese ballet classic, said Zhao Ruheng, director of China Central Ballet Troupe.

In addition to directing a series of award-winning films including Red Sorghum, Ju Dou, Keep Cool, The Story of Qiu Ju and last year's martial arts epic Hero, Zhang Yimou also directed an extravagant, resounding 15-million-dollar production of Puccini's opera Turandot in 1998.


(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2003)

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