A travel and photography blog by Loke Chee Meng
About the title shot :
In the autumn of 2009, I found Little Bugsie, of all places, on a toilet sink in the Days Landscape Hotel located at the foot of Changbaishan, Jilin, China. I invited Bugsie into the room. I gave it the 'red carpet' welcome and took the shot above with a Panasonic DMC-LX3.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Zhang Yi Mou's impression shows

Zhang Yi Mou, the movie director, has produced several large scale, live, on location shows at some of China's most notable scenic attractions.  His shows involving several hundred performers make creative use of light and sound woven into the location's setting.  The content of the show is invariably about the local customs and dances. But each show will inevitably contain some elements of surprise that vow the audience.  Zhang is credited to have provided employment opportunities to many of the local people and made a lot of money for himself too.

The following is my impression of Zhang's Impressions. 

Impression of Hainan 

It is set in a stadium-like arena.  The theme is contemporary (his only show with a contemporary theme) and is about young people's yearning to enjoy sun and the beach of Hainan.

One of the surprises is how the stage turned into a sea of water with the clever change of lighting.  I figured out that the stage is actually built of mesh over a pool.  It turns from land to water by lowering the mesh and vice versa by raising the mesh. Another surprise comes towards the end where the back of the stage opens up and 'viola', the beach,  coconut tress and the waves washing ashore highlighted by the clever use of lighting.

My rating: *

Impression of West Lake

This is probably the most unusual.  The performance is carried out on the waters of the West Lake at night.  The storyline is set against the legend of Madam White Snake which in itself is an enchanting tale.

You have boats sailing on the lake and dancers dancing on water.  The highlight is the broken bridge sequence where a huge bridge-like structure (resembling anything but a bridge, least of all, the real 'broken bridge') is mechanically raised from the lake.

The dance sequences with the creative use of light is scintillating.

My rating :***

Impression of Guilin

This show uses the unique characteristic of the Karst landscape in Guilin (more specifically, Yangshuo) as the backdrop.  It also featured the characteristically unique folk songs ('mountain songs' literally in Chinese) of Guilin.

To a large extent, the dance items are similar to the West Lake's with dancers performing 'on water'.

My rating : **

Impression of Lijiang

The only of his shows that is performed in daylight.  The reason is obvioius.  The location is at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow mountain some 20 minutes drive from Lijiang city.  The audience will be literally frozen if the show is staged at night.

The backdrop is the magnificent 4680m Jade Dragon Snow mountain.  The dances and content are centered around the local tea-trading 'horse gangs' with  real horses galloping around.  Other than that, nothing really unusual.

I think the magnificent Jade Dragon Snow mountain was a distraction as there were several times during the show that I found myself admiring the grandeur of the mountain rather than watching the show.

My rating : *

Sorry, I do not have any photographs of the night shows.  Well, I abide by the rules; no photography and video recording allowed.  Of course, that made me the odd-one-out in China.   Actually, I was prepared to 'follow the custom when one enters the village' as the Chinese saying goes.   However, it does not make sense to shoot anything in the vast night space without a firm tripod.  

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