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Ballet in China> Beijing Review Archive> 2000s
UPDATED: February 21, 2010 NO. 35 AUGUST 28, 2003
Behind the Scenes

Raise the Red Lantern isn't just Zhang Yimou's project, a whole team of choreographers, composers and artists worked on the ballet's second version.

Choreography: Wang Xinpeng and Wang Yuanyuan are the two top choreographers who interpreted Zhang's ideas in the language of stage performance.

Himself a ballet dancer, Wang Xinpeng has been studying choreography since the 1970s. In the late 1980s he moved to Germany, where he furthered his study and worked in various ballet companies. Some of his more recent works earned him international awards. Since 2000, Wang Xinpeng has been directing choreography for NBC and was director of stage art for the Red Lantern in both its releases.

Wang Yuanyuan graduated from Beijing Academy of Choreography in 1995 before she went to study in the United States. She was not in the Red Lantern's first version, and proved to have played a "highly valuable role" in its second version, according to the NBC performance manager Wang Quanxing. She was the director of the revision of the mahjong dance, which she made more interpretive of the characters. The Chinese press calls her a "good storyteller in abstract language."

Music: Chen Qigang, a Chinese musician but long-time resident of France, divided his compositions into 40 percent modern Western style, 50 percent in distinctive Chinese style-based on either traditional operas or folk music - and the remaining 10 percent a combination of the two. "The ideal music" for the Red Lantern, said Chen, the son of a Chinese calligrapher, should be "a balance between the East and the West."

Costumes: Designed by French stylist Jerome Kaplan, the clothing of the three main ballerinas are in red, yellow and green. Kaplan made the costumes for other dancers in a bluish tone to serve as the background. The special design Kaplan adopted for the silk cheongsams (traditional formal dresses) retains the beauty of this tradition style but also enables dancers to move without any difficulty.

Promotion: The domestic side of Red Lantern's promotion is under leadership of Ye Biye, CEO of the Beijing-based Field-Sun Culture and Art Co. Ltd. Ye joined efforts with partner Li Han, chairman of the company, after he worked in a local TV station and a state-owned art management company. Now the two executives own Field-Sun, and in the last few years, it has grown from promoting fashion shows and watermelon festivals to become a specialized manager of art event. Field-Sun claims to have helped NBC fully book its shows from now to the end of December 2004, with total potential profit between 8-10 million yuan ($0.96-1.2 million).

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