If you are traveling to Silk Road China, one of the must do thing is seeing the Dunhuang Silk Road Show – ‘Silk Road, Flower Rain’ . The classic dance drama, hailed by many as China’s Swan Lake, has been performed in more than 40 countries since its debut in 1979.
The Dunhuang theater is very huge and charming venue. I am very impressed with the stunning theatre, look very new but very traditional art in the architecture. There are few theatres located here.
Wood Carved Masterpiece
Once you entered the theater, you will notice the whole hall is surrounded with white color marble and a huge wood carved masterpiece. The wood carved masterpiece is very large which cover the whole wall and you won’t be able to miss it when you enter. It is located at the front of the entrance door. The wooden wall depicting many “Flying Apsaras” or fetian/飞天 and also Magao Cave if you go look closer.
Auction of calligraphy
The show took about 1.5 hour but I can tell you won’t feel a minutes bored. The chairs are comfortable and new and there were many Japanese tourists too. Before the show started, there was an auction of painting and calligraphy going on for a local famous artist.
Summary of Story Background for Silk Road Show
The story feature a female lead character called Yingniang who is captured by bandits and rescued by Yunis, a Persian trader. After reuniting with her father Zhang (Male Lead), the painter, she inspired his paintings in the grottos of Dunhuang with a dance and by playing a pipa (music instrument) behind her head. Yingniang and Yunis flee to Persia to escape the city’s evil mayor, and Zhang was forced to paint the famous frescos of the Dunhuang grottos until his death. At the end, the governor punishes the corrupt mayor and celebrates international cooperation with guests from different nations along the Silk Road trading route.
Show consists of 8 Parts
There are 8 parts of the show. Each part has a title. You get to see the unique culture of the Silk Road. You also get to see the Chinese and Persian friendship here.
Iconic Move : Pipa Instrument was played at the Back!
One of the iconic move of the female dancer is playing pipa behind her back. Please catch this dance move as this move can be found in any historical records. Many of the dance move are adopted from the art of Buddhism, inspired from the mural paintings in Magao Grottoes. This particular movement comes from the fresco in Mogao cave called “fan tan pipa” is considered one of the most beautiful, graceful, and challenging parts in all of Chinese dances.
The Dunhuang grottoes are a Rosetta Stone of ancient dances
The stage, lighting and costumes of the dancer are just stunning. The paintings of the Dunhung Magao grottoes also come to life on stage. In fact, many of the dance moves come from the paintings from Magao grottoes.
Zhang – The Painter, Male Lead Dancer
One of my favorite dancers, Zhang – the painter, also act Yingniang’s father.
There are few excellend lead roles here, Yingniang – no doubt since she is the lead female dancer. Zhang, Yingniang’s father, also the painter, as I mentioned earlier. The other interesting roles are the bandits & Mayor and Yunis. I really enjoyed watching the bandits role dancer, he dance it so well and you can see his cunning and sly expression on his face. Really entertaining. Zhang, the painter is another great dancer, these days you don’t get to see so many great male dancer.
Yingniang – Female Lead Dancer
One and Half Hour Show
Our show started at 8.30 pm and finish at 10 pm. By the time we came out from the theatre, it was already dark. Check out the night view of the Dunhuang Theatre below.
Final thoughts :
This is one of the must do show if you are thinking of doing Silk Road China, especially if you are in Dunhuang. I am very sure you will get entertained by the colorful costumes and professional dance move. This was a meeting of styles and customs, where the Silk Road and Chinese cultures came together.
The price for the show aren’t cheap, I paid RMB 300 (~USD 50) for a ticket including transfer.