Video: Erotic novel adapted for ballet takes center stage in China, admitting adults only

September 3, 2011Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From Wenxuecity

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Golden Lotus, (Chinese name: Jin Pin Mei 金瓶梅, literally The Plum in the Golden Vase) is an erotic novel written by Chinese author “The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling”, an obvious pseudonym, in late Ming Dynasty. For the past four centuries since it was born, it has been banned in China for its explicit portrayal of sexuality, even though it has been replicated and passed around underground for as long as it has been banned, and has been chosen by numerous Hong Kong- and Taiwan-based directors as screenplay for softcore pornographic film and TV series. Adapting it for ballet, admittedly a form of high culture, and presenting it to people from a prudish and sexually repressive culture that often either goggle or ogle at erotica, can be the hardest nut to crack.

Director Wang Yuanyuan seems to have nailed it. Ballet Golden Lotus received critical acclaim and great box office in Hong Kong. It is scheduled to be shown in Chengdu, Beijing and Wuhan respectively in September and October.

Official trailer

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Director Wang Yuanyuan, head of Beijing Dance Theater who choreographed for awarding-winning film Raise the Red Lantern and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, said she has drawn inspiration for Chinese ancient erotic paintings and woven it into contemporary ballet. She said, erotic paintings are a unique Chinese way of expression by being delphic rather than straightforward.

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Wang Yuanyuan said, “Golden Lotus is sensitive because it is sexy. Does sex itself have to be hidden and become a taboo? Not necessarily. It is not very open, but represents one aspect of the human nature nonetheless. Sex itself in Golden Lotus is not filth. Sometimes, it is beautiful. Golden Lotus cannot be interpreted without its sexiness. But sexiness is not nudity. It is a form of art. Chinese sexiness is about what you hide from view and how to hide it, which would give you room for imagination. That is sexier. We try to accentuate this feel with our costume design.”

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Even though in mainland China, there is no rating system in place for movies or television programs, and all films and shows have to be censored for sexual content before release in order to be one-size-fits-all, ballet Golden Lotus has imposed an age restriction and barred those under 18 from the theater.

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The official trailer has circulated on the web for quite a while, and many netizens are wowed by the luscious and breathtaking dance moves. However, some pointed out they can only see undisguised eroticism, which proves Wang Yuanyuan to be right in her concern that people may be drawn by the sexual part, “If everyone comes solely for the sexuality, it will really hurt our feelings. This is art, not a Level III work. (Jing: according to Hong Kong motion picture rating system, Level III is for aged 18 and above only, and is often seen as synonymous with softcore pornography) The audience will not see any striptease or nudity. Dancers act it out through dancing. It is not a romantic play. It shows passion, audacity, intrigue, schemes and desire,” she said. Wang said that she is not afraid of being discussed. She just doesn’t want her painstaking effort and creative work to be wantonly denigrated by backward thinking. She expects that cultivated audience can really appreciate it.

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Selected comments from Sina Weibo (Microblogging service)

我是一哥潇洒 A huge amount of nude-color costumes, trying to manifest overflow of carnal desire or make the audience picture naked performance in their brains. I can’t see the depth. I wonder, can anything be interpreted by ballet? When can they depict electricity-powered tools using ballet? (Jing: suggesting sex toys) Or maybe it is simpler if they use electricity-powered tools to depict Golden Lotus directly.

刚丝大本营 Ouch, what the heck is this?

哈波2011 “Money, power, history, art” plus “sexuality.” When art is in the same line with sexuality, I have to admit I am way too lowbrow. I only see sexuality and not much art. Maybe the ballet in my mind is too different from the director’s definition of ballet. Damn, I have to admit I am a man of vulgar taste. Sex and Zen, Lust Caution and Sora Aoi, I have watched all of them. But I think insulting ballet like this has gone too far. To be honest, I only had erectile dysfunction after watching it (the trailer). Would rather watch a Latin Dance, up…

Yuning99 Set decoration and music are beautiful.

剧本儿 Ballet version of Golden Lotus is a creative idea. Sexuality is an important part of life, after all. It looks breathtaking enough in the video. Should be very good. The zen is also expressed by the set, music and the beauty of ballet itself. I look forward to it.

张欣: (Jiing: She is the CEO of SOHO China, one of China’s largest real estate developer.) Director, don’t you have any creative idea other than taking off clothes? Sigh…

PrivateBanking It was vulgar originally. How can it be high culture?

Tina_段 It is truly nothing but beauty, and yet truly not suitable for minors.

呀呀的瓶子 One man’s meat is another man’s poison. It is much more fun to read the comments.

孙毅律师 Either watch ballet in the theater and sport with your high culture, or watch adult film at home and enjoy vulgarity. Now you combine them like that. Do you want me to be loftily dirty, or be dirtily lofty?

anita_ding2006 Male actors are not easy. What if they have an erection on stage?

陈建奇139 A standard erotic performance! This artwork is a little hard to understand!

陆晓凡V It’s (my) first time to see such a ballet. Bold try. Innovative.

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