Modern Chinese dance drama set to make US debut

About two weeks away from the US premiere, members of the acclaimed Chinese dance drama Under Siege are busy rehearsing amid the sweltering heat.

Combining traditional paper-cutting performances, glamorous Peking Opera costumes, haunting operatic voices, bold martial arts and installation art, Under Siege is a work of contemporary dance based on powerful body language and an authentic Chinese spirit.

It retells the story of an epic battle in Chinese history between the Chu and Han kingdoms’ armies more than 2,000 years ago.

The dance drama has been hailed as an aesthetic triumph for its visual splendor since its 2015 debut in China.

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“It is an experimental drama of contemporary dance, highlighting Chinese culture and aesthetics through an international lens,” says Yang Liping, chief choreographer and director of the show.

“We are using modern methods to tell a very well-known historical story,” the renowned Chinese dancer says, noting that the themes: strategizing, scheming, laying ambush and crafting a siege echo throughout life, even today.

Yang says the integration of various kinds of Chinese cultural elements helps to enhance the drama’s oriental beauty, including the art installations featuring scissors hanging from the ceiling and the red feathers on the floor.

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