MINNEAPOLIS — Northrop at the University of Minnesota presents Shanghai Ballet on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403.
The renowned grace and flawless technique of the Shanghai Ballet shines through in this storybook ballet, “The Butterfly Lovers” with music by Xu Jianqiang, choreography by Xin Lili, and assistant choreography by Chen Zhenrong, Cai Yilei, and Li Fei. The production premiered at Shanghai Grand Theater on December 1, 2001.
The Butterfly Lovers, a perfect blend of classical ballet and Chinese folk style, tells the story of Liang and Zhu, two classmates in love. The star-crossed lovers, like Western literature’s Romeo and Juliet, must transcend family disapproval and tragedy to be together.
Act I: In School, is set during spring, and classmates Liang and Zhu (a female disguised as a male unbeknownst to her classmates) are studying. After a run-in with the school’s bully Ma, Zhu tends to Liang’s wounds and falls in love. However, Liang is unaware of Zhu’s feelings, since he believes her to be a male. Later, a letter comes from Zhu’s family, asking her to come back home.
Act II: Farewell, continues as Liang escorts Zhu back home but Zhu is laden with love-stricken anxiety on the way. Passing by a wedding party, Zhu disguises herself as a bride, but Liang takes it as a game. Finally, Liang realizes that Zhu is a girl as they say goodbye, and is pleasantly surprised.
Act III: Against Marriage, begins as Zhu’s family has arranged for her to marry Ma, the former school bully, despite Zhu’s contrary feelings. Liang then proposes to Zhu, but is looked down upon by Zhu’s father, and is not allowed to marry Zhu. Ma’s family bullies Liang, and eventually beat him to death.
Act IV: Turning into Butterfly, starts on the wedding day of Zhu as she visits Liang’s grave and mourns, disregarding all opposition from her family. Liang died for Zhu. Zhu dies for love. After death, Liang and Zhu are reunited as a pair of butterflies.
Shanghai Ballet enlivens this full-length ballet with their trademark dazzling sets and costumes that harken from Chinese landscapes, as well as precise classical movement, from their Russian-influenced training.
The dancers include Fan Xiaofeng, Ji Pingping, Wu Husheng, Wu Bin, Zhang Yao, Zhong Min, Jiang Yong, Wu Jie, Zhou Haibo, Zhang Yao, Zhang Wenjun, Li Chenchen, Chen Yan, Xiang Jieyan, Feng Bo, Li Yang, Lei Xinmin, Wang Xudan, Bao Deli, Xu Yuchen, Gong Liwei, Tang Jingqi, Miao Siyun, Shi Pengfei, Sun haonan, Sun Xuan, Zhou Jiawen, Tie Jiaxin, Zhao Hanbing, Zhang Mengjin, Meng Fanyu, Hu Pingting, Zhang Wenhui, Li Chenchen, Xiang Yang, Jin Xin, Chen Yunxuan, Ding Chengjun, Ji Luxi, Qian Juemin, Xu Yiru, Li Rui, Chen Lu, Zhang Yuwei , Yu Qiaoer, Chen Tianxu, Tang Kaipeng, Huang Xiaowen, and Yu Lang.
The Shanghai Ballet was organized in 1979. The White-Haired Girl, a classical Chinese ballet created in the 20th century, brought instant fame to The Shanghai Ballet and helped establish its predominant position in the international ballet world. The company has performed The White-Haired Girl in over 1,700 performances and was first introduced to North American audiences during its coast-to-coast tour in the fall of 2002.
With a history of thirty-three years, the Shanghai Ballet has, after its legendary The White-Haired Girl performances, created and staged new folk-styled ballet productions of The Butterfly Lovers (Xin Lili) and A Sigh of Love (Bertrand d’At). Additionally, the company’s repertoire includes the classical ballet repertoire of Swan Lake (Derek Deane), Coppelia (Pierre Lacotte), La Sylphide (Jean-Paul Gravier), The Nutcracker (Tetsutaro Shimizu), Romeo and Juliet (Derek Deane), and Serenade (George Balanchine), along with such modern pieces as The Imagination of Red, Fébrile, Now, Here, and Conversation with Chopin. Additionally, the Shanghai Ballet has performed many pas de deux from classical ballets, including La Fille Mal Gardée, Giselle, Don Quixote, LeCorsaire, The Sleeping Beauty, La Esmeralda, and Raymonda.
Since it’s founding, many young dancers of the company have won a total of 32 medals in various international dance competitions, and they have also achieved impressive results in nationwide competitions. The team of current principal dancers, including Fan Xiaofeng, Sun Shenyi, Ji Pingping, Chen Zhenrong, Yu Xiaowei, and Chen Yan, is growing into a brilliant and artistically mature unit, with rising dancers such as Wu Husheng, WangYa’nan, Duan Wenfei, and Zhang Yao becoming the stars of the next generation.
The Shanghai Ballet is active in cooperation and artistic exchange with artists and companies both at home and abroad. The company has toured not only throughout China but in almost one hundred cities all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, France, Spain, Norway, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.
Artistic Director Xin Lili was admitted to the Shanghai Ballet Dance School in 1973, Xin Lili majored in ballet before graduating with honors in 1980. After graduation, she was assigned to the Shanghai Ballet, rising to become a principal dancer.
With a pure, graceful, and lyrical temperament, Lili appeared onstage dancing principal roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Romeo & Juliet, The White-Haired Girl, Butterfly Lovers, Thunderstorm, Song of Youth, and Soul. As a choreographer, she showed talent in her work on the modern pas de deux Twine.
Lili won the Silver Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition in 1987 and the first Grand Prix Couple in the third Paris International Dance Competition (Classical) with her partner Yang Xinhua in 1988. She was named to the Shanghai Top Ten Young Artists in 1993 and received the Prize for Excellent Performer of Classical Arts in both 1993 and 1999.
Lili trained Fan Xiaofeng and Sun Shengyi, who both won Gold Medals at the nineteenth Varne International Ballet Competition in July 2000. She guided Ji Pingping and Fu Shu to Gold and Silver Medals respectively at the ninth Paris International Dance Competition (Classical) in November 2000. She also trained Ke Da and Yu Xiaowei, who won the Senior Division Gold Medals at the third Shanghai International Ballet Competition in July 2004. She coached the Shanghai Ballet’s Wu Husheng to a Silver Medal win (no gold was awarded) and the Igor Youshevitch Award at the ninth New York International Ballet Competition in June 2007 and the Gold Medal at the fourth Shanghai International Ballet Competition in August of the same year. In June 2009, her students Guo Hongyu and Zhang Wenjun won the Senior Division Silver Medal and Best Pas de Deux at the sixth Helsinki International Ballet Competition.
In 2001, Lili created and choreographed The Butterfly Lovers which premiered at the Closing Ceremony of the Shanghai International Arts Festival. From 2001 to 2011, Lili served as a jury member for numerous international competitions, including the Prix Benois de la Danse, the Shanghai International Ballet Competition, the New York International Ballet Competition, the Hong Kong Young Ballet Star Award, and the Cape Town International Ballet Competition. In June 2010, she was invited to attend the 60th Anniversary of the British National Ballet and performed as the Mother in Swan Lake.
After becoming Artistic Director, she introduced the British versions of Swan Lake and Romeo & Juliet, the French versions of Coppelia and La Sylphide, as well as George Balanchine’s Serenade and La Valse to the company’s repertoire. In 2006, the company created the Chinese modern ballet A Sigh of Love.
First Principal Dancer Fan Xiaofeng entered Shanghai Dance School in 1989, Fan Xiaofeng became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet after her graduation in 1996.
She has danced main roles in Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, La Sylphide, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, The Butterfly Lovers, The White-haired Girl, A Sigh of Love, The Last Mission of Marco Polo, and Shanghai Grand Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker. She has also performed in George Balanchine’s Serenade, La Valse, Pas de Deux in Don Quixote, Grand Pas Classique, and modern pieces such as Red Fan, The Horizon, and Water.
Xiaofeng has won many awards, including the Silver Prize in the Junior Division at the First Shanghai International Ballet Competition in 1995; the title of “Shanghai New Star of Culture” in 1999; the Gold Medal in the Senior Division at the 19th Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria in 2000; as well as second Prize and Best Pas de Deux Award at the second Shanghai International Ballet Competition with her partner Sun Shenyi in 2001. She was invited as a guest principal dancer by Australia National Ballet. She was invited to perform in the first Asia Ballet Festival in Seoul, Korea in 2006. Together with Sun Shenyi, she held the special Gala performance in February 2008. She won the Special Price of the Organization Committee at the eighth China Dance Competition in 2011. In March of 2012, she won the ‘Shanghai Literature and Art Award’ from the Municipal Propaganda Department.
First Principal Dancer Ji Pingping entered Shanghai Dance School in 1986, Ji Pingping became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet after her graduation in 1992.
She has danced main roles in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, La Sylphide, Romeo & Juliet, The White-Haired Girl, Jane Eyre, The Butterfly Lovers, A Sigh of Love, and The Last Mission of Marco Polo. She has also performed George Balanchine’s La Valse, Dream Back to Shanghai and the solo The Dying Swan, among others.
She won Gold Medal at the ninth Paris International Dance Competition (Classical) in 2000. She was invited to perform in the first Asia Ballet Festival in Seoul Korea in 2006. She, together with her partner Wu Husheng, held the special Gala performance in July 2009. She was awarded the title of “Shanghai New Star of Culture” in 2002.
Principal Dancer Wu Bin joined the Shanghai Ballet after graduating from the Shanghai Dance Academy in 2000. He has played principal roles in The Butterfly Lovers, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker (Shanghai Grand Theatre version). He performed important roles in Romeo and Juliet and The Last Mission of Marco Polo. He has taken part in performances such as Coppelia, La Sylphide, The White-Haired Girl, George Balanchine’s neoclassical ballet Serenade, La Valse, the modern ballet La Dance du Stravinsky and the Grand Pas du Bach, among others.
First Principal Dancer Wu Husheng entered the Shanghai Dance School in 1997, Wu Husheng became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet after his graduation in 2003.
He has danced main roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Sylphide, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, The White-Haired Girl, The Butterfly Lovers, A Sigh of Love, The Last Mission of Marco Polo, and the Shanghai Grand Theatre’s Version The Nutcracker. He has also performed George Balanchine’s Serenade, La Valse, Dream Back to Shanghai, Pas de Quatre, and modern pieces such as Conversation with Chopin, Web5, The Song of the Mother, and Water, among others.
He won the Special Jury Award at the third Shanghai International Ballet Competition in June 2004. He was invited to perform at the First Asia Ballet Festival in Seoul, Korea in 2006. In June 2007, at the ninth New York International Ballet Competition, he won the Silver (no gold medal was awarded) and the Igor Youskevitch Award. He won the Gold Medal at the fourth Shanghai International Ballet Competition in August 2007.
Together with his partner, Ji Pingping, he held the special Gala performance in July 2009. He won the Dramatic Silver Prize at the seventh China Dance Competition in 2009; the Annual Best Potential from Municipal Propaganda Department in 2010; the Dramatic Silver Prize of eight China Dance Competition in 2011; the ‘Outstanding Young Dancers of 2011’ from the Shanghai Dance Association in 2011, and the Shanghai National Labor Medal and Young Talent of Shanghai Arts Culture in 2012. He participated in the performance in Nijinsky with the Hamburg State Opera in 2012.
First Principal Dancer Chen Yan entered Shanghai Dance School in 1990, and became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet after her graduation in 1996. She has danced main roles in Swan Lake and The White-Haired Girl, and performed important solos in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Sylphide, Romeo & Juliet, The Butterfly Lovers, and A Sigh of Love. She also danced George Balanchine’s Serenade, La Valse, and modern piece La Danse du Stravinsky, among others.
Principal Dancer Xiang Jieyan entered Shanghai Dance School in 2000, and became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet after her graduation in 2007.
She has danced main roles in The White-haired Girl, Swan Lake, Coppelia, and performed important solos and leading dances in The Last Mission of Marco Polo, The Nutcracke (the Shanghai Grand Theatre’s production), Jane Eyre, (the Shanghai Grand Theatre’s production), The Butterfly Lovers, A Sigh of Love, La Sylphide, Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet. She also danced George Balanchine’s Serenade, La Valse and the modern pieces Beyond Bach, La Danse du Stravinsky, and Grand Pas du Bach, among others.
Principal Dancer Zhang Wenjun entered Shanghai Dance School in 2000, and became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet after his graduation in 2007.
He has danced main roles in The White-Haired Girl, A Sigh of Love, Coppelia, and performed important solos and leading dances in Swan Lake, The Butterfly Lovers, The Last Mission of Marco Polo, Romeo and Juliet, La Sylphide, Giselle, and The Nutcracker (the Shanghai Grand Theatre’s production) and Jane Eyre (the Shanghai Grand Theatre’s production). He has also danced George Balanchine’s Serenade, La Valse and the modern pieces Keep the Length, W.H.Y, La Danse du Stravinsky, and Grand Pas du Bac, among others.
He won the Best China Audience and Encouragement Award at the fourth Shanghai International Ballet Competition in 2007, and he won the Best Pas De Deux at the ninth Helsinki Ballet Competition in 2009.
Principal Dancer Zhang Yao entered the Affiliated School, Beijing Dance Academy in 1996, and after graduation in 2003, became a dancer of the Shanghai Ballet.
He has danced main roles in A Sigh of Love, The Butterfly Lovers, and performed important solos and leading dances in Swan Lake, The White-Haired Girl, the Shanghai Grand Theatre’s version of The Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Sylphide, Giselle, The Last Mission of Marco Polo, and Romeo and Juliet. He also danced George Balanchine’s Serenade and La Valse, in addition to modern pieces Now, Conversation with Chopin, La Danse du Stravinsky, and Grand Pas du Bac, among others.
Tickets are $42, $59, $70. Single tickets are available through ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Buy in person and save on fees, Mon – Fri, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, or Sat, noon – 3:00 p at the State Theatre Box Office at 805 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. Tickets also available the night of the performance beginning at 5:00 pm at the Orpheum Theatre Box Office, based on availability.
Groups of 10+ save 15% off original ticket prices or 25% for schools and educational groups to Northrop Dance season events. Contact Broadway Across America at 612-373-5665 or [email protected] to reserve. Visit http://northrop.umn.edu/events/shanghai-ballet for more information on the performance.
As the University of Minnesota’s performing arts presenter, Northrop is dedicated to advancing the University’s mission of education, research, and engagement through the pursuit of excellence and innovation in the performing arts, community engagement, and creative exchange. For 95 years, Northrop has presented world-class artists in ways that engage diverse audiences and support exceptional teaching within the University and throughout the community.
Northrop’s Grand Reopening Gala on April 4, 2014 kicks off a series of many Grand Reopening events, scheduled throughout April and May of 2014. Details will be announced November 21, 2013.