Entertainment Hive 2017

Fierce and emotional story told through dance

By Honey B

Chinese audiences have flocked to see Quingdao Song and Dance Theatre's latest work Red Sorghum and now the dance drama is making its Australian premiere at the OzAsia Festival in Adelaide. Adapted from the novel by Mo Yan the moving and fiercely patriotic work tells the story of a group of characteristic villagers, their courage and bravery fighting against the Japanese occupation, and their individual struggle for love, life and destiny. Here Red Sorghum’s general directors Wang Ge and Xu Rui answer some questions about this amazing work which tells us: if you live, live bravely and passionately like the sorghum; if you die, die strong like strong sorghum liquour. What makes this Nobel Prize winning story so good to adapt into a dance drama? "The first and important thing is that the dance drama should select the roles and contents suitable for stage from literary story, rather than present the whole story. "Secondly, the story must be presented truly in the form of dance, rather than repeating what have been shown in literature or film. "The feeling of reading a novel is different from that of seeing a movie on one same story. Also watching a dance drama is quite a unique feeling different from the both above.'' What is Red Sorghum about? "The theme of Red Sorghum is: to live like red sorghum, to die like strong liquor (made from sorghums). "We think Red Sorghum is something about life. To live like red sorghum means the vitality of life in the face of hardship. To die like strong liquor means the attitude on life in the face of aggression and oppression, namely defending the dignity and freedom of life.'' It sounds like there is fighting and love and plenty of passion - what moves you about this drama? "It is pure love without reservation. Plenty of passions derive from love, no matter loving yourself, your lover, your family or the land you live. And all fighting is also for love, for not to be deprived of.'' Tell us about your role in this production. "As general directors, we participated in the whole process, from planning, creativity, script, rehearsal to the end of production, and eventually presented the show on stage.'' Has author Mo Yan seen the production and if he has what did he think about it? "Yes, he has. He said the production made him so excited. And he wrote an inscription for the show: singing and dancing, just as what my heart speaking.'' What is it about this work that has seen crowds rush to see this show? "Thanks to Mo Yan’s novel and Zhang Yimou’s film, which has made the story Red Sorghum well known to people. So people have an expectation of the dance drama. We have the dance drama production by standing on the shoulders of giants. "And to our delight, the dance drama has got the recognition of the audience and Red Sorghum’s  author Mo Yan. It assures us that the charm of stage is unique and also able to attract audience.'' What did it feel like winning the Wenhua Prize? "Fantastic! It is China’s top prize for stage arts.'' Tell us about the unique music. "The music is emotional. We hope the music could flow from the audience’s hearts with the development of story. The music absorbs a rich variety of Shandong traditional folk music elements, and is interpreted in a very modern way. The music provides a good atmosphere and emotional dynamic for the performance.'' How hard is it to tell a story through dance? "Very hard. Telling a story is not the advantage of dance. Maybe we could put it in another way. We are not “telling” a story but “performing” a story, using the visual style of dance to show the ups and downs of the roles’ personality, emotion and relationship in the context of a story.'' People are lining up around the world to book and see this show - how does that feel? "Very excited. We hope the no-boundary dance could help us resonate with each other in emotion and connected at heart.'' How important is the OzAsia Festival in strengthening ties in this region of the world? "Thanks for the invitation of OzAsia Festival. Thanks to the organizers for their foresight going beyond the distance between Australia and Asia. We believe the OzAsia Festival will be a cultural bridge across the ocean.'' What are you looking forward to in bringing this show to Adelaide in its Australian premiere? ''If we could not understand each other’s language, let’s dance in Adelaide.'' Red Sorghum, OzAsia Festival, Adelaide Festival Theatre, September 3. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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