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Edinburgh Festival Programme Announced

Posted on March 23, 2011


thenationalballetofchina07eif2011The Edinburgh International Festival has announced its full programme for 2011. This year’s theme is “To the far west”, with a focus on eastern companies and works.


From August 13–15, the National Ballet of China dance the European premiere of The Peony Pavilion (pictured). Choreographed by Fei Bo, this is a retelling of one of the most famous love stories in Chinese literature. Falling asleep in the Peony Pavilion, the heroine dreams of her ideal lover. She dies of despair when she cannot find him, and, after death, turns to the infernal judge of the underworld for help. The production has lavish stage designs by Michael Simon and costumes by Emi Wada. The company’s own orchestra plays the score by Guo Wenjing, which includes references to Debussy, Holst and Prokofiev.


Korea’s Eun-Me Ahn Company dance Princess Bari from August 19–21. Princess Bari is another heroine who travels to the underworld, this time to plead for the life of the father who rejected her. Created by one of Korea’s leading contemporary choreographers, the work draws on traditional art forms, including Pansori.


Scottish Ballet return to the Festival from August 26–28. Jorma Elo will create a new work to music by Mozart and Steve Reich. This will be followed by Scottish Ballet’s first performances of Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth. MacMillan’s 1965 ballet, one of his most loved works, is danced to Mahler’s song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, set to Chinese poems from the T’ang dynasty. Mezzo soprano Katarina Karnéus and tenor Peter Wedd will perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra led by Sian Edwards.


In Sriyah, The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble evoke the rich lines and elaborate carvings of an Indian temple. In Edinburgh from August 26–28, the programme is selected from works created by the company over the last decade, with choreography by artistic director Surupa Sen. It includes the abstract dance Aakriti and Vibhakta, a love song that was named Best Dance of the Year by the New Yorker in 2008.


French Vietnamese choreographer Ea Sola’s Drought and Rain (re-creation 2011) celebrates memory, while looking at the human cost of war and imperialism. First seen in 1985, it features a group of elderly women from the north of Vietnam, whose singing had consoled soldiers on the front line, and an ensemble of virtuoso traditional musicians. It will be performed from September 1–3.


Shen Wei Dance Arts perform Re-Triptych from September 1–3. This trilogy by the New York-based Chinese choreographer Shen Wei was inspired by Tibet, Angkor Wat and China’s Silk Road. It uses traditional folk music – including Shen Wei’s own field recordings from Cambodian villages and temples – plus David Lang’s electronic soundscapes and music by John Tavener.


The festival’s opera programme includes the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe in The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan, based on a Chinese translation of Hamlet. Performed from August 19–21, the work includes traditional acrobatics, dance, mime, singing and martial arts. The Maryinsky Opera’s production of Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, conducted by Valery Gergiev, has choreography by Denni Sayers. It will be performed in Edinburgh from September 1–3.


The theatre programme includes the Korean Mokwha Repertory Company’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with choreography by Keun-Sung Moon. Tim Supple’s production of One Thousand and One Nights will be performed by actors and musicians, with movement direction by Imen Smaoui.


For more information and to book tickets, see or call 0131 473 2000.


Picture: The National Ballet of China in The Peony Pavilion. Photograph: Liu Yang.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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