The notable ballet ensemble has dedicated over 35 years to producing new Chinese cultural works and performing beloved ballet classics.
The show will grace the Merriam Theater’s stage on the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus on Wednesday, August 28, at 7 p.m.
This time-honored company toured the world and holds active cooperation with artists from the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Australia, Japan, Cuba, Russia, Holland, Denmark, and other countries, for master classes, rehearsals, and galas.
Now, directly from Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, Liaoning Ballet will bring the classic story of Mulan to life in Hua Mulan at the Merriam Theater.
Based on the ancient Chinese fable, Hua Mulan’s story became familiar around the world after different adaptions and motion picture release. This original ballet showcases distinctive Chinese elements and modern aesthetics.
“We are honored to bring Liaoning Ballet of China to Philadelphia to the Merriam Theater located on the prestigious Avenue of the Arts. Seeing this ancient Chinese fable of Mulan comes to life through this distinguished dance ensemble should be a phenomenal experience for our Philadelphia audience,” said Wai Man, the Hua Mulan Ballet Representative.
Hua Mulan is a story of a powerful female general during the Northern and Southern dynasties period. Traditional Chinese girls, at that time, would stay home and wait for their parents to arrange their marriage.
Instead, Hua Mulan is sitting at her loom as the men in her family are asked to defend China in the army. She doesn’t want her old and sickly father to serve, and her brother is too young.
Disguised as a man she enlisted in the Army as a replacement for her aging father, with the blessing of both parents. She joined her father’s army and defended her country for more than 10 years.
Despite her well-known military exploits, Hua Mulan excused herself from an official title and returned to her hometown after the war.
The program is performed by star performers who have won awards in international competitions in recent years.
The program includes elegant classical ballet, fashionable modern ballet, all with dramatic and exciting stories. Through ballet, the dancers express the pursuit of ideals and the expression of love, so that the audience can capture the many faces of ballet.
The Liaoning Ballet of China established in 1980, one of China’s most famous ballet ensembles has dedicated to producing new Chinese cultural works and performing beloved ballet classics. In addition to the professional company, they have also built the Chinese School of Ballet Art for developing dancers.
Here is a deeper look at this ballet and ensemble from an exclusive interview with stage manager Ning Xi Cui, with the generous help of an interpreter, upon his arrival in Philadelphia.
What does ballet mean to you?
Ballet is the top forms of the arts and is very popular with audiences around the world. It is a way of expressing what people are feeling, both when they are feeling bad and the anxiety of their troubles and when they are feeling good and uplifted.
What about this show?
This ballet is very popular for Chinese, for all the people in the world. It is about a female warrior and is from a poem dating back to the Sixth Century, and many people recite and learn the poem. It’s a ballet.
Why is this story still relevant in 2019?
The story is mainly about Hua Mulan, a beautiful young girl, who goes to the frontier to fight the enemy and how the kids respect their parents. From a young age, children are exposed to a very good education so they know what to do and what not to do. In Chinese history, the male plays an important role in the family.
But in this case, Mulan took on this role when she dressed up as a male to fight. No one knew she was a female warrior, and this is the story of how she overcomes all of the obstacles that the boys’ face when they go to battle. She was a female dressed up as a boy to fight the enemy and to bring honor to her family.
Why will my readers enjoy this production?
It shows what is unique about the roles of the Chinese arts. This is an original creation and not a copy of other people’s interpretations. It is very famous to a modern Chinese audience. This shows all of our Chinese culture, the color, vibrancy, and emotion on stage.
What is the message of this ballet?
The emphasis is on the loyalty and respect children have for their parents. When you grow up you will respect your parents. This point of view I reflected in China and around the world. It’s also about this girl’s loyalty in taking the place of her (old and sickly) father. What do we learn? We want to protect our family and our country. We are fighting to the end of life. This is our spirit and energy for these things.
How does that message resonate today so much?
These are values we emphasis on giving our children an education based on respect and loyalty for our parents and our country has inspired us for centuries.
Now, today kids are playing games and are constantly on their cell phones and they don’t care about these things. We still emphasize the importance of positive reinforcement and positive energy of education. Also, we stress family loyalty and a sense of responsibility we don’t hear as much anymore.
How do you feel about your beautiful ballet being performed in Philadelphia?
As we mentioned this ballet troupe is very famous and is popular in China and different theaters and cities, including New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. It is a huge cast of more than 80 performers and crew from China. We are very proud of this troupe and where ever they go they are welcomed again and again by the audiences. We are looking forward to seeing our new audiences.
The Merriam Theater will host the ballet stage on Wednesday, August 28, at 7 p.m.
For tickets call 215-893-1999, online at www.kimmelcenter.org, or go at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales for nine or more and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999. For more information go to www.kimmelcenter.org.
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