Beijing Dance Academy
The Butterfly Lovers
Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles
On Tour to San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland & Seattle
In August of 1978, I was lucky to be one of the first when China began to cautiously open its doors to Western tourists. In the streets everyone dressed uniformly: white short sleeved shirt for men and women, dark blue trousers for men, and dark blue shirts for women. Needless to say, a bright green tee-shirt dress, blond hair, and blue eyes stuck out. Outside factories and public places there were thousands of identical black bicycles. I still wonder how you found your own at the end of the day.
Visually the Beijing Opera and other performances were a different story. Bright, saturated color was used in gaudy, silken abundance. The performances themselves, with the exception of the acrobats, tended to be somewhat tiresome for Western audiences. The stories, music, and movement were routed in ancient Chinese traditions, that is, unless they celebrated the Great Leap Forward. The acrobats, who were astonishing to anyone’s eye traveled to the West, however, for the most part, the rest of the performance repertoire stayed pretty much in China.