Erotic novel adapted for ballet takes centre stage in China

金瓶梅, Jin Ping Mei, or The Plum in the Golden Vase, also translated as The Golden Lotus is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in vernacular Chinese (Wu dialect) during the late Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). It is written by 蘭陵笑笑生, “The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling”, a pseudonym, and his identity is otherwise unknown. Earliest versions of the novel exist only in handwritten scripts; the first block-printed book was released only in 1610.The present complete version comprises one hundred chapters,amounting to over a thousand pages.

Jin Ping Mei is considered to be the fifth classical novel after the Four Great Classical Novels, including King Monkey Travels to the  West, Three Kingdoms, Shui Hu (Water Margin), Dream of The Red Chamber. Its graphically explicit depiction of sexuality has garnered the novel a level of notoriety in China akin to Fanny Hillin the English literature. For the past four centuries since it was born, it has been banned in China, even though it has been replicated and passed around underground ever since.

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 was scheduled to be shown in Chengdu, Beijing and Wuhan in September and October last year.

Watch the impression & trailer:

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