Friday, 14 September 2007

women hold up half the sky

Yesterday was my birthday. Happy birthday to me!
My Mum and Dad called in the morning to ask if it was okay to come to my house before we went to the restaurant because my present was too big to take there. Wheee! How the hours until 6 o'clock seemed to stretch out.

They brought me this:
They had framed my poster from the Shanghai Ballet performance of the White Haired Girl at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in May 1977. I have always loved this poster and it has been resting rolled up at my parents' house since the early eighties when they moved from Ottawa and dismantled my girlhood bedroom.

It was a great night. I think we were there on opening night. We went to a reception hosted by the Chinese embassy and met some of the dancers.

Below you can see a video clip of Mao Huifang dancing the title role.

You can see the whole ballet on YouTube.

The first clip is here:

The second clip is here:
At about 5 minutes her braid comes undone and her shirt turns pale pink, at six minutes her clothes and hair turn grey and at 8:15 her clothes and hair turn white. The dance depicted in the poster starts at about 22:00. The pas de deux starts at about 29:00. The moment depicted in the poster is at around 37:52.

The White Haired Girl was one of the Eight Model Plays and an artifact of the Cultural Revolution. I do not want to glorify that time on my blog but it is also an artifact from my own personal history and I think it is important to reflect upon what we in the west knew, thought and felt about China in the 70s and how that shaped our political attitudes and actions.

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