The Guangdong Song & Dance Ensemble from southern China made its United States debut with Dragon Boat Racing at the David H. Koch Theater. The balletic aspects, gymnastics, costumes, sets and acting were quite remarkable. The plot concerns two composers and their creation of the 1930’s composition of the same name. Ironically for a show about music the piece only carries three themes that repeat incessantly. Composer Du Ming sounds more americanized then representing the Cantonese melodies.
The story concerns Nian (Li Xing), the lead composer who is in love with Ling (Li Yanchao), and she with him. Nian’s father insists that he marry another. Nian’s younger male cousin and musical collaborator secretly loves Ling as well. The two lovers keep meeting until the Japanese invade. The Japanese kill the entire music school, but our hero’s survive to write the score that was in his heart. In doing so and seeing the death of the wife he has spurned he can not be with Ling and the show ends.
The plot by Tang Dong is simplistic and non climatic. The direction by Zhou Liya leaves gaps in-between scenes. Instead of flowing from one scene to the next, there is about 5 minutes to end what seems like tablos, which breaks any kind of allowing your audience to become emotionally involved.
The choreography and direction by both Han Zhen and Zhou Liya has both Mr. Xing and Ms. Yanchao soaring to new heights of discipline. Fluid movements of height with legs stretching to the sky make these two a joy to watch. I look forward to seeing these two artists dance in a better piece. The choreography though never really climax’s to a crescendo. There are beautiful and lovely moments but nothing to take your breath away. Part of this problem is the lack luster score.
The costumes who the playbill gives no credit for and set by Qin Liyun stood out as well as the lighting which was spectacular.
Dragon Boat Racing: David H. Koch Theater, closed.