Dance of death promises to thrill

10:14, January 11, 2011      

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Nine Theater's latest dance production, Salome, is a new interpretation of the classic Bible story. (Photo source: China Daily)

Most Westerners are familiar with the Bible story of Salome, especially the dance of the seven veils, in which the young princess Salome dances for Herod and demands the head of John the Baptist in exchange.

The story of desire, jealousy and death has been interpreted numerous times in plays, operas, ballets performances and films.

If you are a modern dance fan, you will be thrilled by the one-act dance drama Salome at Beijing's Nine Theater.

"It is a perfect combination of modern dance and multimedia technology. Audiences will find it easy to understand as the plot is not that important," says Xu Wei, art director of the production.

The performance is based on the tragedy of the same name by Oscar Wilde. More than 2,000 years ago in Galilee, Herod's stepdaughter Salome feels frustrated and angry when John the Baptist rejects her love.

At Herod's birthday party, he wants Salome to dance for him. The pretty girl grants Herod his wish and does a provocative dance for him.

Herod approaches her joyfully, only to be left dumfounded by her request: the head of John. At the end, Salome takes John's severed head and kisses him on his cold lips.

"I was attracted by the story when the playwright mentioned it. I chose Wilde's script, as he is the model of aestheticism, which fits our style," says Chao Ke, one of the choreographers.

It is the first work of Nine Theater Modern Dance Company since its establishment in June 2010. The company consists of two choreographers and nine dancers, with an average age of 25.

Nine Theater, one of the most famous small theaters in Beijing, founded the company, with the purpose of providing a platform for talented young dancers and expanding the market.

The performance focuses on Salome's inner emotions and thoughts rather than the dramatic storyline.

"It is not a narrative dance drama, so audiences don't have to follow the plot of the story. They only have to feel the emotional changes of Salome," Chao says.

Salome's emotions are shown by solo and group dances. The three female dancers represent the different aspects of the princess: such as her beauty, jealousy and cruelty.

The climax of the dance is Salome doing the dance of the seven veils, the decapitation of John and Salome kissing him.

"It was difficult to understand Salome's changeable character, especially when I was rehearsing a two-person dance about her and John. Their emotions are subtle, like love, but not love," Chao says.

"We can compare the colorful image of Salome to the different stages of a woman. For example, a 16-year-old girl's innocence and a 26-year-old's thirst for power," says Yang Hailong, another choreographer.

"In everyone's heart lives a Salome. Her varying nature just reflects the complications of human nature," Yang says.

Salome's extreme and crazy love doesn't take "no" for an answer. She wants to possess the man she loves, even when he's dead.

"Her hatred springs from her deep love. It is also a common problem in relationships. I believe young people can reflect on their own emotional troubles through the dance," Yang says.

The company performed several segments of the dance on buses for passengers before its premiere, with the aim of promoting modern dance among the public.

"Many modern dance lovers are in the 30 to 40 age group. Hopefully, we can draw some youngsters with the performance," the choreographer Chao says.

Source: China Daily
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