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Philippines-China spring: Cultural exchange resumes

COMING SOON: Dancers perform a scene from ‘Raise the Red Lantern,’ which the National Ballet of China will bring to Manila later this month. Photo courtesy of the National Ballet of China

MANILA, Philippines – Ties with China on all fronts are showing definite signs of a new spring.

After years of negotiations, the National Ballet of China will bring the internationally acclaimed ballet “Raise the Red Lantern” to Manila in two gala performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on Oct. 27 and 28.

The project is the first under the Executive Program of the cultural exchange agreement signed recently between the Philippines and China and is a joint endeavor of the Ministry of Culture of China, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

Based on multi-awarded director Zhang Yimou’s 1991 film of the same title that starred Gong Li, the ballet, premiered in 2001, tells the story of a young woman who becomes the second concubine (or third wife) of a wealthy feudal lord. Set in 1920s China during the Warlord Era, the ballet, also directed by Zhang, features opulent sets and costumes in vibrant and bold colors. The cast of over 60 artists includes dancers, musicians and even Peking opera artists. It has been described as “a modern ballet with the sweep of a big-budget motion picture.”

The ballet has toured the world since its debut in Beijing in 1991, and has won numerous awards, including a nomination for Best Foreign Dance Company in the British National Dance Awards, the dance world’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The second part of the cultural exchange program will see Ballet Philippines, the resident dance company of the CCP, performing at the National Theater in Beijing in June 2017. BP will perform the award-winning neo-Filipino ballet on the environment “Encantada,” choreographed by Gawad CCP and Tokyo International Choreography Competition awardee Agnes Locsin, with music by Joey Ayala and Bagong Lumad.

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