With the Luminato Festival entering the final home stretch week in Toronto, there are still a number of amazing shows to experience. But one in particular, especially for classical music and dance lovers, can’t-be-missed.
Acclaimed Chinese choreographer and performer Yang Liping has re-imagined Rite of Spring — Stravinsky’s masterpiece for the 21st century with a distinctive Tibetan and Chinese flair. Yang Liping’s stunning new production incorporates 15 dancers, and new compositions inspired by traditional Tibetan music that is woven into Stravinsky’s seminal score.
1. See An Old Favourite With New Eyes
Liping uses ancient Chinese and Tibetan symbols and ceremonies that breathe new life into Rite of Spring and its timeless themes of ritual, ceremony, and sacrifice. Rite of Spring has seen many incarnations since its controversial premiere in 1913, and Liping adds new dimensions with choreography that takes its inspiration from a range of Chinese dance styles, including traditional Chinese opera, martial arts, and elements of contemporary dance. She incorporates the Eastern tradition of rebirth after sacrifice into the story, dividing the piece into three sections. The middle uses Stravinsky’s score, while the first and last sections offer new compositions by Xuntian He which were inspired by traditional Tibetan melodies.
2. For The Sheer Joy Of Dance
Yang was dubbed the Princess of Peacock in 1986 when she became famous overnight for her impressive rendition of the Spirit of Peacock dance in a national competition. She brings a troupe of superb dancers from her native China for this production, including both traditional and modern dance practitioners. Liping’s choreography ranges from languid and sensual to frenetic and electrified, often inspired by the movements of nature itself. She incorporates Buddhist as well as Taoist philosophies and movement, elements of Tibetan culture, and the Yunnan dance forms of southwest China into an inventive flow of movement across the stage.
3. Dazzling Costumes And Makeup
The piece opens with a group of seated dancers meditating, with large open eyes painted on their closed lids. Along with their glittering costumes and headdress, it creates a mesmerizing effect – and that’s just the beginning. Along with their impressive and athletic skills in performance, the dancers are a feast for the eyes. Liping and her Peacock Contemporary Dance Company have assembled a cutting edge creative team from around the world for this production, including leading costume makers and makeup artists. To evoke its dream-like fantasy of ritual and ceremony, dancers will feature an array of eye popping costumes, with makeup inspired in part by the traditions of Chinese opera and Tibetan theatre.
4. Spectacular Stagecraft
The Peacock Contemporary Dance Company brings the talent and otherworldly visions of renowned Chinese art director and set designer Tim Yip – the Oscar-winning art director for the smash hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – to immerse audiences in the world of Stravinsky’s re-birthed ballet. The sets include moving scenery, and a floor to ceiling approach that creates a haunting and atmospheric experience. The fantastical and spiritual elements of the story are conveyed with an innovative eye for design, along with dramatic lighting and other effects that enhance both the story and performance. Audiences will experience a mastery of stagecraft like no other.
5. A Rare Opportunity
Yang Liping’s Peacock Contemporary Dance Company is one of China’s few independent dance companies. Rite of Spring is the first major work for the company, and their Toronto performances will mark the first time the company has brought their talents to a Canadian stage. With touring companies rare in the contemporary dance world in general, it represents a rare opportunity for Toronto audiences – and dance aficionados in the area – to experience contemporary Asian dance at the cutting edge.
The production is Co-Produced with China Shanghai International Arts Festival, in partnership with Sadler’s Wells, London, DYRS Group, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Brisbane Festival, Beijing Poly Theatre Management Co., Ltd., Edinburgh International Festival, and Stanford Live, and is set to tour through 2020.
Rite of Spring
Company: Peacock Contemporary Dance Company
Venue: MacMillan Theatre
Duration: 70 minutes, no intermission
June 20 – 22 (4 shows)
Details and tickets, HERE.