Lantern Festival: Dancers bring Tang Dynasty musicians to life




To portray the Tang Dynasty-era (618-907) musicians, actresses from central China's Zhengzhou Song and Dance Theater must undertake an hours-worth of makeup which is a delicate process every time.

"One misstep could destroy the whole thing," said Fu Shaonan, a dancer from the show titled "Night Banquet in Tang Dynasty Palace." "We've got to be very careful, so the process goes as slowly as possible."

Their debut on Henan TV's Spring Festival Gala has gone viral with its video watched for over 500 million times on social media platforms. On Sina Weibo alone, China's Twitter-like platform, the total view counts of a related topic have surpassed 300 million, with thousands of netizens discussing the show.

"It was the best show I've ever watched this year," a netizen nicknamed "Art-photos" said on Weibo. "It must be specifically designed for us netizens," said another named "Qingshuiwuhe," noting that these actresses made a big splash during this year's festival.

A poster of dancers from the show "Night Banquet in Tang Dynasty Palace." /Zhengzhou Song and Dance Theater

"After doing it over and over again, we've mastered it," Fu said ahead of the group's performance for Thursday's Lantern Festival Gala featuring "Amazing Night at the Museum" on Henan TV.

Utilizing historical studies, Chen Lin, choreographer for the team's festival gala, tried to restore the expressions, features, even the identities of dancers often depicted on Tang-era tri-colored pottery found in Henan Museum.

Tang Dynasty is often regarded as the golden age in terms of Chinese art and poetry. In addition, women shared prominent social status in that era when plumpness was considered an attractive attribute. In order to make these dancers appear plump, the team has even come up with thick cotton-filled costumes and cotton-filled mouths.

The show also employed digital technology like 3D and AR to demonstrate unique objects and artifacts from museums, while the team worked on visualizing what a palace court might have looked like back then.

"Its success has inspired us to explore our rich history further," said Sun Shujie, president of the theater. "Our job is to present this ancient culture alongside national treasures by bringing them to the public."

(Zhang Youze and Fu Xiaolei have also contributed to the production, as well as Henan TV Station.)