New big show for Dali

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lijiang and Yangshao have their own shows, thanks to Zhang Yimou, and now Dali is set to have its own big, big show:

Following director Zhang Yimou's popular series of open-air shows, Impression, comes rival Chen Kaige's Xi Yi.

Impression captures some of China's most scenic scenes -
from Lijiang River in Southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous
region to the old town of Lijiang in Yunnan province, from the
beautiful West Lake in East China's Zhejiang province to the Southern
island of Hainan.

Now Chen, whose movie Farewell My Concubine (1993) was
nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Golden Palm Award at the
Cannes Film Festival, is gearing up to present his outdoor shows on
April 28 in another of Yunnan's charming old towns, Dali.

But Chen denies that he is following in Zhang's footsteps.

"I don't want to follow anybody. There's no ready direction to take.
I just take my own road, and be myself," says the 58-year-old director.

"Owing to my busy schedule, I have not seen any open-air shows. I
would not compare my show with any other," says the director and
promises "a unique production, distinct from any previous shows in

"It must satisfy me, satisfy the audience and satisfy the local
government which has invested some 200 million yuan in it," he adds.

Chen also emphasizes that he will spend time and energy on the show,
and not just be its nominal director, in an obvious allusion to Zhang,
implying there has been little personal involvement in his Impression series.

But it's hard to know how much Chen will indeed expend on the show.
However, Wang Bing, chairman of Pacy Age Culture Communication Co Ltd,
which is producing the show, says Chen and his team have spent
half-a-year deciding on the site, the story and the show's major
Chen braces for battle of Impressions
Located about 200 km southwest of Lijiang, Dali boasts a similar
ethnic flavor and scenic beauty. Zhang's Impression Lijiang receives
thousands of tourists every day, so why is Chen doing a new show at the
nearby town?

Chen's answer is that he has spent his best times in Yunnan, where he worked as a zhiqing,
or urban educated youth, in the 1970s, and he shares an emotional bond
with the land. "I love the land. The natural scene of Dali inspires my
creativity and imagination," he says.

However, he has not chosen Mountain Cangshan or Lake Erhai, the two
trademark scenes of Dali, but an old dam and reservoir in the northern
suburb of the town.

According to Wang, the performance area will cover 133,000-sq-m of
water and they will build a 5,000-seat auditorium on the dam. The
show's organizers say the reservoir is no longer in use but the local
villagers say the reservoir has a long history and even today meets
their needs of irrigation.

In 2005 when Chen shot The Promise in northwestern Yunnan,
his crew had to face allegations of destroying the local environment.
This time around, Chen emphasizes that he will produce an
environmentally friendly show but avoids elaborating on the
controversial reservoir.

Meanwhile, Chen and his team including leading Chinese contemporary
choreographer/dancer Gaoyan Jinzi and Japanese musician Joe Hisaishi,
have started work on the planned extravaganza. Its name Xi Yi, comes
from two sentences in Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching: "Something invisible called Yi; something inaudible called Xi."

The main story is based on a Bai people's legend.

(China Daily July 7, 2009)
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