Zhang Yimou directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Today in China there are five “Impressions” shows that he created to showcase the indigenous peoples and cultures of China. We have been privileged to attend performances of two of these five shows.
In Yangshuo, we saw “Impression, Liu Sanjie” the first such production. Yimou’s works all involve casts of 1000’s and here almost all of the performers are floating on the waters of the Li River. The arena is at a bend in the river and the “stage” which includes the performers area and the lighted karst mountains, extends 2 K up the river. The show is performed at night so I have only one picture – the welcome greeting.
With lights, fire, singing and dancing, performers floated in boats and rafts and moving docks to creat beautiful patterns in light and color telling a folk story of the people who live on the river between the karst mountains.
In Lijiang, we saw “Impression, Lijiang” which is performed outside in the daytime on a huge stage which uses the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as it’s backdrop. The mountain is nearly 5596 meters, carries glaciers, is very spectacular and according to the locals, has never been climbed. (A quick check of Wiki reveals that the mountain has been summitted once, in 1987, by an American team.) Whether or not the mountain has been climbed has little bearing, however, on the emotional show about the region’s minorities.)
Dancers, singers, horsemen and horsers around, comprise the local cast of several hundred. As wonderful as the Yangshuo show was, it is eclipsed by this one.