"Mei Lanfang" is the latest in a remarkable line of Chinese ballets.
Chinese artists who explored the concept of localizing western ballet began to flourish shortly after the birth of the country's first ballet company, the National Ballet of China, in 1959.
Superbly trained by technical Russian dancers, Chinese artists debuted the first Chinese narrative in 1965. "The Red Detachment of Women" has, since its premiere, become a crowd favorite.
Feng Ying, the director of National Ballet of China said, "In the 1970's, the play was one of only two ballets that we were allowed to perform. During its extensive tour across far flung regions of the country, many, many Chinese became acquainted with the basic ideas of ballet."
As they entered the new millennium, ballet companies in China tried to revitalize their programming by creating shows grafted onto the pageantry of the Chinese stage.
One of these was the Central Ballet's collaboration with film director Zhang Yimou on "Raise the Red Lantern", a modern ballet with the feel of a big-budget epic.
Zhang Yimou's obsession with visual beauty enlivens the dance. For the first time, ballerinas wear flamboyant qipaos instead of traditional tights. The staging encompasses Peking Opera, Kungfu and even dynamic dances set to the rhythm of mah-jong.