Performances

The Ah-Lan Dance 10th Anniversary Gala Show

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With great pleasure we would like to announce that this year is the 10th anniversary of Ah-Lan Dance!

We will have a very exciting program for our 2018 Gala Show on January 27th and January 28th from 3-5pm at the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater.

The 2018 Gala dance show features a dance drama based on the timeless Chinese tale “The Butterfly Lovers,” and a dance suite based on “Four Great Beauties” of ancient China, both newly choreographed by creative director Ah-Lan with assistance from dance teacher Yang Yang.

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The first half of our show will feature a dance suite based on the famous stories about the Four Great Beauties of China.

China’s four famous historical beauties gained their reputation from the influence they exercised over kings and emperors and, consequently, the way their actions impacted Chinese history. Three of the Four Beauties brought kingdoms to their knees and their lives ended in tragedy.

The Four Great Beauties are:

Xi Shi, who lived c. 7th to 6th century BC (Spring and Autumn period), was said to be so entrancingly beautiful that fish would forget how to swim and sink below the surface upon seeing her reflection in the water.  In order to realize a diplomatic goal, Xi Shi was selected as a “gift” by the king of Yue State and offered to the king of Wu State. She sacrificed her happiness and served the king of Wu State. The Wu King was so entranced by Xi Shi that he ignored all national affairs. Day by day, the Wu State fell into decay. The Yue King seized this excellent opportunity and defeated the Wu King, realizing the dream of national independence.

Wang Zhaojun, who lived c. 1st century BC (Western Han Dynasty), was said to be so beautiful that her appearance would entice birds in flight to fall from the sky.

In 36 B.C., Wang Zhaojun was selected as a royal maid to serve the royal chambers. At that time, the relations between ancient China and the Xiongnu (an ancient nationality in North China) was strained. One of the leaders of the Xiongnu State visited the Han emperor and expressed his wish to make peace with Han Dynasty by marriage. The Han Emperor agreed. However, no princesses or maids wanted to marry a Xiongnu leader and live in a distant place. Then Wang Zhaojun stood out and agreed to go to live with the Xiongnu. She got along well with the Xiongnu people and made great contributions to maintain the peace and friendship between the Han Dynasty and the Xiongnu.

Diao Chan (lived c. 3rd century, Late Eastern Han/Three Kingdoms period) was said to be so luminously lovely that the moon itself would shy away in embarrassment when compared to her face.

Diao Chan’s fame is attributed to the famous novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  According to the novel, Diao Chan was a singing girl in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. In order to undermine the tyrannical warlord Dong Zhuo, Diao Chan disregarded her own happiness and engaged in endless manipulations with Lu Bu, Dong Zhuo’s adopted son. Through her efforts, Dong Zhuo was killed by Lu Bu, which contributing to the emergence of the outstanding heroes Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan.

Yang Guifei (lived 719–756, during the Tang Dynasty) was said to have a face that put all flowers to shame.

Yang Guifei, originally named Yang Yuhuan, was an imperial concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.  In 755 A.D when the “Anshi Insurgence“ erupted from the local military forces of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Tang Xuanzong, together with Imperial Concubine Yang, fled from the capital Chang’an. When they arrived at the Mawei Slope, the army refused to march, for the army thought that the reason for this rebellion was that Imperial Concubine Yang’s behavior distracted the emperor and ruined the state, and that her cousin Yang Guozong seized this opportunity and  colluded with the enemy. To appease the army, Emperor Tang Xuanzong had no choice but to order Yang to commit suicide at the Mawei Slope.

The second half of the show will feature a dance drama based on the famous Chinese traditional story of the star-crossed lovers Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, “The Butterfly Lovers.”

The title of this great folktale in Chinese – “Liang Zhu” – is derived from the names of the two main characters — Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai.  Liang Shanbo was a scholar from an ordinary family, while Zhu Yingtai was the only daughter of a wealthy family.

During the time of China’s Eastern Jin dynasty, women were not allowed to go to school. Zhu Yingtai tried her best to persuade her parents to send her to school, and finally was able to attend classes in disguise as a man. On her way to the school from her hometown, Zhu Yingtai met Liang Shanbo, and they became best friends. During the time studying at the same school, no one discovered Zhu Yingtai’s true identity, including her closest friend Liang Shanbo. Zhu Yingtai soon found herself falling in love with him, but she could not express her feelings to him without revealing her secret.

Three years later, Zhu Yinngtai’s family arranged a marriage for her, and in order to bring her home from the academy, Zhu Yingtai’s relatives tricked her by telling her that her parents had fallen gravely ill. Zhu Yingtai made ready to leave for home, and with sadness, Liang Shanbo accompanied his “best brother” for 18 miles to see “him” off in a famous scene in the story. During the long journey, Zhu Yingtai hinted that she was a woman to Liang Shanbo. The two were extremely devoted to one another, and Liang Shanbo decided to propose. However, Zhu Yingtai’s parents had already arranged her to marry Ma Wencai, a man from another rich family. Filled with heartbreak and regret, Liang Shanbo became critically ill, and died soon after.

The most dramatic scene of the story happens on the day of marriage, when strangely strong winds prevented the wedding procession from passing the bridge where Liang Shanbo’s grave was located. Zhu Yingtai stopped to pay her respects at his grave, and suddenly, lightning and thunder split open the grave. Unwilling to get married to anyone other than Liang Shanbo, Zhu Yingtai jumped into his grave without hesitation. Everyone was stunned as the grave reopened, and a pair of beautiful butterflies came out and flew away together.

 

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