To read Jowita’s feature on arriving in Hong Kong, click here.
Review by Jowita Krasik.
Last night I unexpectedly found myself at a dance performance in a theatre in China. The show we went to see is one of China’s most well-regarded stage performances, called the Dynamic Yunnan. It is a showcase of a minority culture, performed by natives. It has been running globally for over a decade and received high appraisal around the world, as well as in China.
The entire performance was absolutely stunning. The show was a perfect representation of the culture and could not have been more appealing. There was a showcase of various drums and the symbolism they have to the people; there were also various local songs, dances and prayers performed by the ensemble and solo artists. It was not only entertaining to watch but also culturally eye-opening.
Another astounding feature were the special effects on stage. Right at the start, the back row of drummers was drenched in water as they performed a ‘Rain Prayer’; and about half way through the show – during the ‘Pilgrimage’ song – white confetti started falling on the stage. Not only did this add a little magic to the moment but for the rest of the performances, especially during the solo finale dance, the confetti danced on the stage in a whirlwind as the dancer glided across the stage. What was most astounding came right at the end: after the dancers – illuminated by a black light which showed the wonderful representations of peacock feathers painted onto their costumes – whirled off the stage; a woman rose from between the front steps of the proscenium arch and walked downstage, covering the entire platform with a fluorescently painted black fabric. The sight was truly awe-inspiring.
However, despite how beautiful the show was, it was not overall a great experience. As an avid theatre-goer, I like to focus on the performance; in this theatre it was almost completely impossible. There were people talking to each other at all times, children running up to the stage and almost everyone was taking pictures and videos of the performance. It was quite a culture-shock. I have never seen anything like this happen at any theatre I have attended in any of the countries I have previously visited. It made me feel disappointed that the audience did not fully appreciate all the hard work put into the performance by the cast and crew.
As a whole, although I am not too keen on being a part of theatre audiences in China, I am looking forward to seeing more shows here, and strongly recommend to anyone who visits Kunming to see the Dynamic Yunnan, as it is a sight to remember.