Spectacle in the Night

If you saw the awe inspiring Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, raise your hand. You may recall that the ceremony was directed by a well known Chinese film director named Zhang Yimou. In addition to the Opening Ceremony, he has directed 5 permanent “Impressions” shows in different parts of China, one of which is in my own backyard here in Yangshuo!

Considering how impressed I was with his job at the Olympics, I simply had to experience his work in person, so I forked over RMB160 (about US$23) for a ticket to see this spectacle.

Impressions: Sanjie Liu is a retelling of a Chinese movie-musical from the 1960’s about a girl who sailed down to Yangshuo on a bamboo raft and settled under the Big Bayan Tree (a really old tree near town…something I didn’t see). I was definitely the only westerner there, but there isn’t any dialogue aside from the beginning so it wasn’t hard to follow at all.

The massive production was held in what has to be the largest outdoor performance space in the world. The performance actually takes place in the juncture between the Li and Yulong Rivers, on a scale so large that it makes Cirque du Soleil’s “O” look as if it were performed in your backyard kiddy pool!

The set…why Yangshuo’s spectacular scenery of course! Twelve of the surrounding karsts were illuminated parts of the show.

Now, take such a massive stage, add 600 performers, including local villagers, and the result is just beautiful!

There were some truly astonishing moments, like when a seemingly endless line of glowing figures (all real people, of course) emerged and crossed the stage before flickering on and off their lights in nice patterns.

My favorite act of the evening was one which involved many fisherman in bamboo boats who synchronized themselves in moving these large pieces of red fabric that spanned the length of the stage.

It really was a spectacular performance, one which I am very glad I was able to experience! It was definitely a great way to close out my time here in Yangshuo!

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