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Stage performance "Liberation", directed by Zhang Jigang who was one of the creators of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, has come full circle at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
The show premiered there last year, and in nearly one year's time, it has toured around the country, making more than one hundred stops.
It is indeed hard to define the show's artistic genre. It is a fusion of cross talk, the Puju Opera sung in Shanxi dialect, folk songs and dances... all are combined to serve the same purpose-- to transport the audience to the lean soil of a plateau in north China's Shanxi Province during an unknown era, when the foot-binding custom practiced on young girls was all the rage.
It was once considered in China, the smaller a woman's feet, the sexier she was. And in the past, bound feet were a status symbol and the only way for a woman to marry into a "good" family.
But what highlights the show is that instead of quenching the thirst of a curious audience wanting to know more about the long-abandoned custom, "Liberation" accentuates the earnest emotion of love on a human scale. These emotions are reflected in the dancers' agile movements and the singers' powerful soaring voices.
Also, two cross-talk performers serve as a kind of oracle or Greek chorus, bridging each act by directly addressing the audience regarding what will happen in the next scene. The two performers' coming in-and-out of the plot add a Brechtian theater experience for the audience.
Zhang Jigang, Director, said, "My inspiration comes from the generation of my 94-year-old mom who had her feet bound. Actually, I choreographed a dance of the same name about a decade ago. Over the years, I developed and enriched the show with various art forms. Frankly speaking, it is the first of its kind ever created in China."
Foot-binding practice had long been abandoned in China. Since the founding of New China in 1949, the Chinese women have never needed to do that again.
In the coming months, "Liberation" will tour to Taiwan. Zhang expects his work will strike a chord with the Taiwan audience because they have the same cultural roots as their mainland compatriots.