Keeps per­form­ers on their toes, lit­er­ally

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By ZHANGKUNin Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The most fa­mous so­lil­o­quy of all times, “to be or not to be”, will be “spo­ken” with­out ut­ter­ing a word, through dance move­ments.

Shake­speare’s play Ham­let will be pre­sented as a ful­l­length bal­let, and the new­pro­duc­tion will pre­miere at Shang­hai Grand The­ater on April 15 and 16.

Chore­og­ra­pher Derek Deane says the story ofHam­let is “so uni­ver­sal that it can be told any­where, in any lan­guage, any art form”.

De­spite ear­lier at­tempts to present the story in short episodes of bal­let, there has not been a fea­ture pro­duc­tion. That’s be­cause chore­og­ra­phers of­ten fret about “how am I go­ing to tell the story”, Deane says at a news con­fer­ence in Shang­hai.

He be­lieves, how­ever, the story is so fa­mous and self-ev­i­dent that there is no need to spell out ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in Shake­speare’s tale. In­stead, he wants to bring out all the tragic and happy mo­ments in the story of Ham­let.

Deane is a renowned chore­og­ra­pher from Bri­tain who has been named as an Of­fi­cer of the Or­der of the British Em­pire. The for­mer artis­tic di­rec­tor of the EnglishNa­tional Bal­let be­gan to work with the Shang­hai Bal­let in 2000, and has since pro­duced Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker with the com­pany.

The Shang­hai Bal­let has been a pro­lific and in­no­va­tive com­pany, says Zhang Zhe, pres­i­dent of Shang­hai Grand The­ater, the co­pro­ducer of the bal­let. The “won­der team” of the Shang­hai Bal­let and the the­ater has jointly pro­duced The Nutcracker in 2010, Jane Eyre in 2012 and Echoes of Eter­nity in 2015.

Ham­let will be the only orig­i­nal project in the the­ater’s new sea­son com­mem­o­rat­ing the 400th an­niver­sary of the death of Shake­speare.

“We have cho­sen the project not sim­ply be­cause of the oc­ca­sion or the whim of any of­fi­cial,” Zhang says. “We have high re­spect for the prin­ci­ples of art, and picked the play af­ter in-depth dis­cus­sions with the chore­og­ra­pher.”

Deane comes from a clas­si­cal back­ground, but the pro­duc­tion is not strictly clas­si­cal. “There is a whole cross-sec­tion chore­o­graphic move­ment— with lots of neo­clas­si­cal work, as well as con­tem­po­rary work — in this piece,” he says. “I view it emo­tion­ally, to change things chore­o­graph­i­cally, to ex­press dif­fer­ent emo­tions.”

It was the rich feel­ings and col­or­ful char­ac­ters of the play that in­ter­ested Deane.

“It’s a won­der­ful story for the dance the­ater, be­cause there is so much in it: There is love, hate, pas­sion, de­sire, mur­der, sui­cide — ev­ery kind of emo­tion is part of the story.”

As a chore­og­ra­pher, he found it “so much more in­ter­est­ing and more re­ward­ing” to push the dancers, emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally.

Un­like a one-di­men­sional char­ac­ter like the prince in Swan Lake, Ham­let has “eight, 10 di­men­sions in his mind”, and all these emo­tions make him more real — and hu­man.

It will be a two-hour pro­duc­tion, dur­ing which Ham­let, played byWuHusheng, “never leaves the stage”.

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