- Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, 30 – 31 January 2015
- Company: CPAA Theatres
- Direcor: Wei Ding
- Music: Gangbao Liu
- Lyrics: Shuaiyuan Mei
- Choreographer: Feng Shuangbai
- Scenery and lighting design: Yi Ju
- Costumes: Qing Mai
- Running time: 90 minutes (plus about 20 min interval)
- Website: thelegendofthesun.com
The Legend of the Sun, showing at the end of January 2015 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre is an adaption from a folktale of the Zhuang nationality in Southwest China. This charming story is brought to life by the CPAA Theatres dance company, and has won several national arts awards and honours, including the Golden Lotus Award and the Outstanding Production Award at the 7th China Theatre Festival.
Performed by a 50-strong cast of dancers, the visually spectacular performance of The Legend of the Sun portrays the legend of the Zhuang people in a touching story of family values in which a pregnant mother embarks on an epic journey through the wilderness, whilst facing numerous challenges in search of the flaming sun to bring its warmth back to their homeland.The Zhuang people live in a place without sunshine, and as the legend goes, far beyond their wilderness lies a flaming Sun that will bring light and warmth to their people. A pregnant mother takes up the challenge, knowing that whilst she might not make it to the end, her son when born would take up the journey to its end.
The story is one of a struggle for peace and happiness and its protagonists soon find out that the end goal is not necessarily gained by the journey they expected.
The show, majestically choreographed by Feng Shuangbai, features brightly coloured costumes, an emotional and moving soundtrack, and wild acrobatic moves at times which are testament to the physical shape of the performers. The audience is drawn into the emotion of the story, whilst dazzled by the skill and prowess of the dancers.
The show will be enjoyed by the whole family, and fans of classical ballet will find this particularly entertaining. In order to best appreciate the show, an understanding of this old legendary Chinese tale is required. The following are a breakdown of the acts which allow us in the Western audience to understand the back-story a little better:-
[tab title=”Act 1″]The mother-to-be walked through the wilderness all by herself. Mountains opened their broad arms to her, rivers reached out their gentle hands, and flowers and plants cleared the way for her. In the embrace of the Earth, a new life was born into this world of green. And this was the birth of Le (“Le” stands for “son” in local Guangxi dialect).[/tab]
[tab title=”Act 2″]Under the nurturing care of his mother, Le slowly grew into a brave young man as his mother gradually grew old after all the hardships she had faced in the wilderness. She left with Le her unfulfilled mission and “Longing for Your Return”,the ballad of their homeland. Her untiring soul, searching for light and warmth for so long, now rested forever on the journey towards the Sun.[/tab]
[tab title=”Act 3″]Though the mountains were so high and paths so dangerous, Le trudged and climbed tirelessly. But one day, he fell off the cliff and was knocked unconscious. Sister Teng spotted Le on her way to fetch water and fed him drops of the cool spring. When Le finally woke up, he fell in love with her at first sight. During the festive folksong gathering, Sister Teng throws out her love Xiuqiu (a ball made of strips of silk) and steals the hearts of the many young men present. Le competes with young men from different minority groups and finally wins the “battle of wits”, as well as Sister Teng’s heart.[/tab]
[tab title=”Act 4″]Lost in love and tenderness, Le has forgotten his mission to search for the Sun until one day when playing with Sister Teng, he draws a cardinal sun on her forehead which suddenly reminds him of his mother’s last words and the longing of his fellow people. Painfully, he parts with Sister Teng and picks up her mother’s walking stick, setting out again on his journey towards sunlight. On his lonely trudge, Le has reaffirmed his faith in finding the Sun.
Also longing for light and warmth, Sister Teng finally understands Le’s mission, and follows his footprint soon after his departure.[/tab]
[tab title=”Act 5″]There was nothing but dead silence spread out on the boundless wilderness.
Leaving behind his sweet lover, Le felt lonelier than ever. He missed the time he spent with Sister Teng in her comfortable hammock. However, when he thought of his mother’s last words and the ballad from home, he was reminded of his task to find the Sun. Suddenly, in a howling storm, Le spotted Sister Teng, who had been chasing after him all along. In the storm, love had transformed into a lofty power that supported them to continue their journey towards the horizon.
Behind Le and Sister Teng, thousands of people had gathered, following their steps and walking towards the place where the Sun rises.[/tab]
Dazzling Dance, Visually Spectacular!
Performed by a 50-strong cast of dancers, the visually spectacular performance of The Legend of the Sun portrays the legend of the Zhuang people in a touching story of family values in which a pregnant mother embarks on an epic journey through the wilderness, whilst facing numerous challenges in search of the flaming sun to bring its warmth back to their homeland.