Review: Under Siege
Claire Boughey | On 27, Oct 2017
Yang Liping’s retelling of the ancient Chinese battle between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang was a mesmerising feast for the senses. Under Siege was exquisitely staged and its soundtrack almost hypnotic.
After the fall of the Qin dynasty, two major forces emerged in the hope of claiming power over China- Chu and Han. Chu was led by Xiang Yu and, the Han leader was Liu Bang. This battle continued for 4 years, from 206 BC to 202 BC. In the end, Liu Bang is victorious and proclaims himself the first emperor of the Han dynasty.
In order to capture this momentous battle, Liping’s choreography was strong and warrior like. The dancers had us on the edge of our seats as they performed back-flip, after kick, after split jump, after back-flip. The dancers playing Xiang Yu and Liu Bang commanded control over the stage, their soldiers and the audience. Unfolding like a perfectly choreographed battle, the dance moved from one side of the stage to the other and back. Formations were formed to create and battle front, and then dispersed as the enemy intercepted.
The narrative flowed just as smoothly as the dance thanks to the charismatic and engaging narrator. Whilst the story was told in Chinese, his intonation and the small snippets of translation projected on the sides of the stage for the audience to read meant we were not left behind.
Whilst the entire show was captivating in its fast paced nature, the finally was something you did not want to miss. Red feathers were rolled out to cover the stage in order to represent the blood of the fallen. The feathers paired perfectly with the free flowing movement of the choreography and was a beautiful spectacle to witness. The dancers had been stripped almost bare to invoke a feeling of vulnerability and finished with them entirely covered by the feathers… or by the blood of the battlefield.
Under Siege- a dance work that managed to make war beautiful.
Images supplied from Brisbane Festival