It was a rare treat to see China’s Romeo and Juliet dance concert performed by the Beijing Dance Academy Youth Dance Company at the Paramount Theater last weekend. I stayed for the 25-minute dance drama even though it was placed last on the program.
The music, a violin concerto titled “The Butterfly Lovers,” was composed in 1959. In fact, a 128-member orchestra, conducted by Carolyn Kuan, performed live a month ago at the Benaroya Hall as part of the Celebrate Asia! concert. What a missed opportunity for the dancers and local Seattle musicians to collaborate together!
The attendance for the Beijing dancers was about 1,000, which was far below Paramount’s capacity of 2,700. The organizers had the wrong marketing strategy. They targeted mainstream first and forgot about the Asian community. Mainstream audiences don’t have the knowledge about the legendary Butterfly Lovers. But the Chinese community does. It was part of our youth. Had we known earlier, we could have brought our friends to the show.
In 1990, two Chinese dancers from China in Dance did a remarkable performance of Butterfly Lovers at UW Meany Hall, which earned standing ovation and thunderous applause (in contrast, the recent show at the Paramount garnered only mild applause). The male dancer was so mesmerizing that the audience kept asking who he was. That was the first exposure of China’s Romeo and Juliet in Seattle. And the best part:
The male dancer was Hengda Li, who had decided to stay in Seattle after the performance. He opened his own dance school. ♦