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Saga of ancient beauty staged in Zhuji

ezhejiang.gov.cn| Updated: February 8, 2024 L M S

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A still photo from the dance drama Xi Shi. [Photo/Tide News]

The grand premiere of the original dance drama Xi Shi captivated audiences at the Xi Shi Grand Theater in Zhuji.

The story of Xi Shi unfolds during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), weaving themes of love, betrayal, and political intrigue.

Originally named Shi Yiguang, Xi Shi is a beauty from the State of Yue. She was sent as a "gift" to King Fu Chai of Wu by King Gou Jian of Yue, causing Fu Chai to neglect his kingdom. This led to the weakening of Wu's defenses, ultimately allowing Gou Jian to conquer the kingdom.

Drawing inspiration from this traditional tale, Xi Shi explores the contemporary significance of its heroine. Chief director Wang Taorui emphasized the production's focus on Eastern aesthetics.

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A still photo from the dance drama Xi Shi. [Photo/Tide News]

"In the set design, we created two layers of illusions," explained set designer Xu Dingwei. "One portrays Xi Shi's romantic fantasy, while the other depicts the grandeur of ancient kingdoms."

In terms of choreography, audiences were treated to the revival of an ancient form of tap dance pioneered by Xi Shi over 2,000 years ago. Additionally, elements of the "Boat Fist" form (practicing martial arts on boats) from Wu and Yue cultures are integrated, with performers transforming fist movements into dance.

Co-produced by the Zhuji Culture and Tourism Group and Hangzhou Hongyi Yingxiang Cultural Tourism Development Co, Xi Shi made its debut in Hangzhou last June, boasting an impressive attendance rate of 96.41 percent.

Renowned dancer Yang Liping praised the dance drama for its blend of heritage and innovation, stressing the importance of respecting local culture and expressing regional essence through the universal language of dance.