I know very little about dance. I have not seen a huge amount of dance performances and I have no knowledge of the technical skill required for the various types of dances. Most of my understanding of dance comes from So You Think You Can Dance, which I haven’t watched for a number of years.
So it is with trepidation that I write this review. Red Sorghum is a feature event in the 2014 Oz Asia Festival and billed as a “dance drama”, listed under the theatre section of the program… but essentially, it’s a dance performance. Luckily my companion at the performance happened to have a lot of dance experience and assures me that the technical skill and control of the dancers was excellent, particularly the two leads.
Looking at Red Sorghum as a drama, there is a lot to enjoy. An adaptation of Chinese Nobel Prize winning writer, Mo Yan, the production essentially tells a love story commencing in China in 1939 with the traditions, history and tragedies of the era as a backdrop.
Meng Ning plays “grandmother” Jiu’er, a young girl sent to wed a leprous distillery owner, only to fall in love with Grandfather (played by Fubo Sun). They are surrounded by an array of characters, including Jia Yu as Uncle Arbat and Xiaolin Chen as Dou Guan as well as a strong corp of male and female dancers and other characters.
Each vignette of the story is narrated simply and brought to life with stunning colours and contemporary choreography that evokes emotion and drama appropriate to the story. The Harvest and Meeting Death (spoilers) sections were particularly beautiful and exciting as pieces of art.
Overall, Red Sorghum is a moving, entertaining and beautiful piece of performance art, performed by an energetic and skilled dance troupe. A perfect inclusion in this year’s OzAsia Festival.