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Liaoning Ballet presents 'The Last Emperor'

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The Liaoning Ballet company from northeast China have finally brought their ballet "The Last Emperor" to the capital after years of international tours. The ballet is part of the ongoing China International Ballet Gala Season in the capital.

Liaoning Ballet company presents "The Last Emperor" in Beijing. 

Being one of the most important ballet companies in China, side by side China Central Ballet and Shanghai Ballet, Liaoning ballet carries the task of creating ballets not only with a Chinese scope but also regional characteristics.

Qipaos and pointe shoes are the dress code here. Courtiers dancing before a throne that is teetering on the edge of collapse. A three-year-old Puyi takes the throne as the last emperor of China.

"The Last Emperor" traces the life of Puyi from childhood and marriage, to his imprisonment during the Japanese invasion and subsequently becoming an ordinary citizen in the new Republic.

The linear chronology is often interspersed with moments of flashback stitched together through montage. Based on the original novel by Neville John Irons and drawing from Bertolucci's acclaimed movie, choreographer Ivan Cavallari creates a fusion of Chinese elements and stereotypes set to a Western sensibility.

Because we had the foreign audience in mind when we first created this ballet, we invited a Western director to stage it and he has brought a fresh interpretation of the Chinese emperor," said Liaoning Ballet company's director Qu Zijiao.

But piecing together Chinese elements without making them into a collage of visual cliches can be a daunting task. And so is striking a balance between form and storytelling. While something more physical could've created more naturally inspired choreography, Cavallari chooses reading as the activity in the student-teacher scene. As a result, viewers may find themselves hovering above the real drama buried beneath.

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