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The Imperial Bells of China - Australian Tour 2016

Home > Melbourne > Performing Arts | Music | Dancing | Concerts | Classical Music
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Traditional music and dance of China
Imperial Bells of China opens up a window to ancient Chinese culture, musical instruments, song and dance. A vivid display of music and dance, Imperial Bells of China returns to Australia in 2016 with a brand new production, Chime Music and Dance.


Imperial Bells of China
Imperial Bells of China performance; Image supplied


Characterized by the grand Bianzhong bells, various native musical instruments, folk music, warfare and acrobatics, beautiful thin waisted maidens and long flowing sleeves of their silk gowns, this show transports the audience to a golden period some 2500 years ago in the Hubei province of China.

The history of the bells is quite unique & interesting. In 1978, the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, which dated back to 433 BC, was discovered. The unusual thing about this was that it contained a large number of musical instruments and a set of chime bells, all excavated in perfect condition. The unique discovery of the set of 64 Bianzhong bells was mounted on 2 beautiful and elaborately carved wooden racks. The 64 bronze bells are arranged on 3 levels and produce a different sound when struck by a wooden mallet on the side or centre. It takes about 5 people to play them.

Inspired by this discovery, the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre has composed the Chime music and dance performance.

Imperial Bells of China
Imperial Bells of China performance; Image supplied


The show instantly relays the audience into the kingdom of Chu in 400 BC. The silk outfits, elaborate head gears, dance props and moves beautifully represent the culture of the ancient times. The show is divided into 4 chapters with a break of 20 minutes between chapter 2 and 3. Each chapter is a collection of musical and dance routines.

The show begins with the bianzhong chime bells occupying center stage. The grandeur and splendor of the bells is breathtaking. On either side of the bells, forming a semi circle, are other musical and percussion instruments and their players. They play music to begin the show and a cast of singers accompany them. The first song performance is the Grandeur of Chu, it sings to the glory and prosperity of the state of Chu. There are subtitles on the screen to help audience, who don't have a programme guide, to follow the performance.

Imperial Bells of China
Imperial Bells of China performance; Image supplied


The first half of the show has some beautiful song and dance routines including the sacrificial song and Guan guan. The sacrificial song portrays some amazing costumes and props. Guan Guan, probably my favourite song, is a song of romance characterized by beautiful maidens clad in white swinging and swaying to the song in graceful moves. Another song, collecting the Mulberry leaves also exudes grace in the dance. By the end of the first 2 chapters, owing to the melodious music and resonating bells, I felt magically transported to ancient China.

The second half of the show puts special emphasis on some solo performances highlighting the various Chinese musical instruments. In the ancient Chinese era, there were 8 tones of music depending on the material the instrument was made of - metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, earth, hide and wood. While each displayed it's own unique characteristic sound, when played together they orchestrated a symphonic sound. Apart from the grand Bianzhong bells, I was particularly excited to listen to the A Xun, a small porcelain instrument that looked like a small cup and is held between the palms of 2 hands.

The last chapter called the Art of Chu ends in a performance titled 'The Great Royal Banquet'. Characterized by great and royal, the images of the long, flowing and colourful sleeves of gowns swung up and down to give a theatrical effect, stay with the audience for hours after the show. Talented dancers swiftly move while flinging their long sleeves to give fleeting glimpses of dance formations. If caught on camera at the right moment, it would make a beautiful picture. The show ends on a remarkably high note as the whole ensemble comes onto the stage showcasing just how massive an effort putting the entire show together could be.

This show is a new production from Ausfeng and is touring Australia on these dates.
Sydney - 25th and 26th May 2016, at the Capitol Theatre
Canberra - 31st May and 1st June 2016, at the Canberra Theatre Playhouse
Melbourne - June 4th and 5th 2016, at the Melbourne Comedy Theatre

Watch a teaser of the show below

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*Priyanka was invited as a guest
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Your Comment
This does look very interesting and definitely something different to see.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5681) 506 days ago
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