The dance drama tells the story of a clay modeler at the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, who after perceiving the beauty and sincerity of the “Lotus” (a sacred image in Buddhist poetry), creates a painted statue for the Dunhuang caves. Choreographer ZHAO Xiaogang borrows the exquisite body language of the Dunhuang wall murals and Buddhist statuary to tell the story of this clay modeler’s journey of cultivation and learning, searching for the origin of life, as he carries his sculpture great distances across land and sea. It celebrates humanity’s persistent search for true love, goodness, and cherished wishes.
Through the story, we are introduced successively to the following images: revolving mud crescent-moon spring dance, blue lotus dancing with eyes and hands (based on the mudras of performing Bodhisattvas found in wall murals of the fifth and sixth centuries), the comical rhythmic dance of the stone lotus (based on early Tang Dynasty “lotus child” frescos), the quiet and delicate brocade fish dance, bounded hand and feet joined bud lotus dance (based on the “Mizong” images found in Dunhuang cave 465), the unrestrained warrior Buddhist saint dance (based on the Tangut warrior saint statues at Yulin Grottoes), the red lotus dance that combines strength and suppleness (based on the sixth century murals of Apsara immortals), the soul shaking white lotus dance (based on the tenth century prototype of the figure of “Dao Zhen”). The last section draws on the music and dancing imagery of the murals in Dunhuang cave 220, including the lotus pond dance of the seven auspicious immortals. The delicate body rhythms of the dancers and bowed string melodies of the erhu bring blessings and happiness to all those who truly know the beauty of the Lotus.
At the end of the story, when the clay modeler places his painted statue inside the Dunhuang stone cave, he cannot help but say goodbye to this figure that has accompanied him through his life journeys. The choreographer uses the visual effect and feeling of modern dance to express the clay modeler’s vision of art as “coming from life but exceeding life,” as well as this statue’s relationship to him as”coming from but surpassing.”
Artistic Director: LIU Min
Consultants: PAN Zhitao, ZUO Qing
Artistic Guidance: GAO Jinrong
Director/Choreographer: ZHAO Xiaogang
Producers: ZHAO Xiaogang, ZHANG Yunfeng
Music Director: CHENG Dazhao
Composer: GUAN Peng
Set Designer: WANG Ruiguo
Set Decorators: LIU Haiyong, ZHENG Yulong
Lighting Designers: QIAO Mu, GAO Baolong
Costume Designer: YANG Donglin
Style Designers: LIU Chang, WANG Yan, XIAO Ke
Digital Media Designer: SHU Yong
Presenter: Xianwuren Theatre
Special Guests: ZHANG Yunfeng, WANG Zihan, HUANG Lufei, SHAO Junting, SHEN Xubin, PEI Zixing, LIANG Qian, SUN Qiuyue. LIU Chang, SHEN Liyuan, ZHU Lei, SHI Renqi, HUANG Fei, ZHOU Ziwei, YANG Deyue, LÜ Zimin
Act One, Sculpt
Crescent moon spring nestles in the bosom of sounding stones mountain. The clay modeler wanders to this place, and nebula swirl in the beautiful reflections of heaven. Waves churn the spring’s water, like lotus flowers in full bloom. The clay modeler decides to sculpt a painted statue. The lithe and graceful lotus murmurs a blessing for him. The stone lotuses bring mud, sand, cotton and wheatgrass to build the statue. Even the fish in the spring sense the clay modeler’s lotus-like intention and chant softly.
Act Two, Travel
The clay modeler packs the statue onto his back and begins a journey.They see the devoted married couples brightly blossom and then are buried. They hear the Buddha warrior attendant saint with lotus chanting scriptures, shaking sleeves in displeasure, taking tiny steps. Immortals and flying apsaras on the painted walls of the great edifice are like red lotus, recounting to them the truth and sincerity of the world.
Act Three, Farewell
Greed, anger, and madness of the secular world utterly destroy the sincere respect of the natural universe. The clay modeler entrusts his hope and wishes to the painted sculpture and places it inside the stone cave of Dunhuang. As he waves his hand farewell, the painted statue seems to shed a tear, glittering and transluscent as a lotus flower.