For those interested in ballet, both the title The red detachment of women As the National Ballet of China itself (or Central Ballet: BNCh) are something and much more than an exoticism, a boutade orientalist or what we called before a chinoiserie of which our Carlos III liked so much and which today are only pictures of painted wallpaper or of apparent celadon vases at the price of gold. Elegant, technically impeccable, refined in their stylistic margins and with a time-tested discipline, the company that owns the Asian giant comes to Madrid for the first time and opens the 33rd edition of the Teatros del Canal International Festival in Madrid in Dance.
It is a success from all points of view that the set debuts with the reconstruction of this work of the dark and terrible times of socialist realism and its vulgar Stalinist sequel in version torn eyes, times not to forget, and to learn that they should never return ; the ballet does not stop being a cameo that must be taken with distance, irony and a lot of retraction, but it is history: to keep it, almost a duty.
But let's put the ballet in its proper context. The detachment … it premiered in Beijing's new opera (the grand theater had been opened in 1959) on October 1, 1964, starring Pai-Shuhiang and Liu Chingtang with a success that forced the season to extend for almost a month. Then, as now, the BNCh was headed by a woman, Jiang Zuhui (who shortly after was retaliated by the Maoist Cultural Revolution and remained for more than two years in internment camps). This ballet advocated the very hecatomb of the Cultural Revolution, which officially began in 1966 and lasted almost 10 years. The detachment … is the plastic synthesis of a current and other previous titles, such as The lotus flower, The beautiful little fish, Qu Yuan or The legend of Princess Wencheng. In all of them there is a coexistence between elements of opera and ancient Chinese traditional dance and the very technique of western ballet.
Such was the triumph of The detachment …, that were published year after year the libretto and the notebook of the scores in its reduction for piano, an unusual popularity. The heroine Wu Ching-hua (or Qionghua in another pouring system of the ideograms) was seen on postage stamps, porcelains and wrappings of roses smelling soaps. And where does the idea come from? From an award-winning film at the Moscow festival of 1964 and a ballet of Soviet realism: The red poppy (1927), often replaced and versioned both in Moscow and in Leningrad. The Chinese ballet is born of the Soviet, but with its own characterization. From there came popular characters today in the West as Li Cunxin (Mao's last dancer) or Jin Xing (Exoronel of the Red Army and today successful transsexual choreographer). This piece with red flags, sickles and hammers, compasses The International and other hindrances, constitutes an aesthetic, political and social testimony of importance. The unquestionable quality of this replenishment gives sense to conservation and it is understood the success they had in New York in 2015 with their debu at the Lincoln Center.
When one opens the rehearsal of the great theorist, historian and teacher Ou Jian-Ping, the first thing he sees in every page is a scene from the ballet tavern Don Quixote with a beautiful and brand new Feng Ying in the center; She is currently the artistic director of the BNCh and responsible for this fruitful endeavor. She already participated in the ballet version of The red lantern, of Jian Ximu, repeating the magic formula of The detachment … Those of us who saw her dancing and being an elegant swan or a sparkling Quiteria, now ratifies her as an efficient director.
Legend has it that when Mao Zedong arrived in Moscow for the first time in 1949, one of the few courtesies that Stalin had with the Chinese leader was to take him to the Bolshoi Theater to see Swan Lake, and that Mao (accompanied by his wife, the feared Jiang Quing) said in chorus: "We want this in Beijing." Thus Piotr Andreievich Güsev traveled to China in 1956, where he remained until 1960 and left the mark of the acrobatic ballet, and also Sulamif Messerer (aunt of Maya Plisetskaia and protagonist who embodied in the Bolshoi Tao-Hoa, of The red poppy); Sulamif went to China punished for being Jewish, but she was an excellent teacher and left her knowledge in the Pekinese school. All this is subtly inside this company today, which can be seen in the Teatros del Canal until tomorrow, Friday, the 7th.