Hong Kong Dance Company - The Legend of Mulan - Southbank Centre
Acclaimed for its award-winning choreography and exquisite dance Hong Kong Dance Company will stage the UK premiere of its signature dance drama The Legend of Mulan. An ancient ballad that celebrates humanity, wisdom and courage, telling the story of Mulan, a young maiden who disguises herself as a man to go to war in her father’s place. At the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre in London on 15 April 2017.
Mulan is a legendary figure from ancient China who was originally presented in a Chinese poem known as the Ballad of Mulan dating to the fifth century. Mulan, a peasant girl, disguised herself as a man to join the army in place of her aged father. She fought for a decade and gained much respect. She gave up a position at court and retired to her hometown instead. Over time, the unusual adventures and touching story of Mulan rose in popularity as a folktale and became widely taught in schools. It has also inspired a number of screen and stage adaptations, including the hit animated Disney movie released in 1998.
The Legend of Mulan has garnered accolades in Hong Kong, New York and Sydney. It is known for its pulse-racing battle scenes, interjected by moving portrayals of Mulan’s personal struggle, and loyalty to her family and country.
The performance is in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
About Hong Kong Dance Company
Established in 1981 with the aim of promoting Chinese dance, the Hong Kong Dance Company was incorporated in 2001 as a charitable and non-profit-making institution, and is financially supported by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Since its inception, the Hong Kong Dance Company has staged over 100 productions, many of which were highly popular with critical acclaim. Recent productions include Qingming Riverside;The Smiling, Proud Wanderer; Snow Fox; Eagle Companions; Two Swallows – Ode to Wu Guanzhong; Spring Ritual‧Eulogy; Feng Shui; Pop Classics: Joseph Koo’s Dance Melodies 2013; The Legend of Mulan; The Butterfly Lovers; Storm Clouds and L’Amour Immortel.
The Company has toured internationally as well as around Mainland China as a way to encourage cultural exchange. The Company was invited to perform at the “Meet in Beijing 2008” Arts Festival to celebrate the Beijing Olympics, and took part in the opening ceremony of the East Asian Games in 2009. In 2010, the Company participated in “The Ninth China Art Festival” in Guangzhou and the World Expo in Shanghai. In January 2013, the Hong Kong Dance Company presented Qingming Riverside at The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Spring Ritual•Eulogy was presented at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in September 2013, and the Novel Hall for Performing Arts in Taipei in December 2013 as part of Hong Kong Week 2013. The Legend of Mulan was presented at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York in March 2015, and in Sydney in September 2015.
The classic Chinese story of Hua Mulan is familiar to most of us. Artists, in particular, have a penchant for this tale, because the universal values embedded in it enable people from different cultural backgrounds to find their own perspective of appreciation.
The origin of this story goes back to the fifth and sixth century, in what is known as the Southern and Northern Dynasties of China. It was told in the form of poetry, in a plain but lyrical style, immensely rich in aura and imagery. It naturally reminds one of the language and expression of dance. In capturing its poetic spirit, Hong Kong Dance Company transforms the narrative voice into dance movement, and pays meticulous attention on the aesthetical effect of the dance. More specifically, the lighting is made to fuse with the ambience of the story, which is strained and chaotic at one time and peaceful and still at another. The setting tends to be more conceptual than realistic, and numerous spatial arrangements are made to enhance theatrical dynamics.
When choreographing the dance, I am most impressed by the spiritual congruity between the bodily semantics of Chinese dance and the Mulan tale. Chinese dance is distinct from ballet or modern dance and is, in fact, an embodiment of the traits of various forms of art. It is a synthesis of traditional Chinese dance, xiqu (Chinese opera), as well as martial arts, ballet, and much more. It is a highly expressive language, and I take it that you will find certain narrations of Mulan’s inner thoughts, such as the female group dance and the “Departure” father-daughter duet, worthy of your attention.
As a dance company from Hong Kong, we are closely identified with the city. This metropolis has, perhaps unexpectedly, a very good connection between tradition and modernity. It never loses its root, but it is always open to newness; it embraces almost everything, every kind of things in whatever styles; it bonds with China, and is nurtured by the traditional culture of China. Born in such a city, Hong Kong Dance Company is youthful and vibrant. It is, like its home, seeking to reinterpret traditional Chinese culture in a new, contemporary perspective.