Project Description

Video

About the Work

Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera, with its abundant energy, high contrasts and rhythms – has wonderful elements for dance. It is also incredibly theatrical, and very much a performance piece for the musicians. Tan Dun asks the musicians to move around the stage, vocalize and extend their playing to include paper, stones, cymbals and even bowls of water. In interviews about Ghost Opera Tan Dun talks about his early experiences with Nuo Culture growing up in the South of China, which is an ancient folk dramatic art involving Song, Dance and Ceremony dating back to the 16 and 17th centuries BC. The meaning of the Chinese character NUO is a patterned step to drive away evil and the Nuo Opera has evolved from a sacrificial activity or ceremony to worship gods and ancestors, enacted by a priest or shaman. It became a masked drama based on historical events or folk stories to establish ties and norms. Although contained now mostly to the Southern provinces Nuo Opera is still performed in cities and towns as a kind of seasonal ritual symbolizing wishes of sacrifice to ancestors, praying for blessing and dispelling evil. The performers wear elaborate masks. In Nuo culture masks are regarded as symbols and carriers of gods or spirits. Tan Dun talks of everything in Nuo having a spirit. The spirits of nature, time, place and culture are all present in his composition.   This was the jumping off point for thinking about the choreography. Tan Dun describes his concept for Ghost Opera this way: “Ghost Opera is a piece using very ancient theatrical methods to approach a modern idea, linking the different kinds of territory across media and across lives, and across decades, and let all those souls talk to each other.” In his score Tan Dun references both eastern and western music and cultural traditions, with passages from a Chinese folk song, a Bach prelude, as well as quotations from Shakespeare’s Tempest. As previously mentioned he also incorporates different elements into his score – water, stones, metal and paper. GroundWorks approached the work as a kind of meeting place, a landing of spirits of all kinds – spirits from the past, present, and future, from east and west culture, from nature and technology. As such the performance, our stage, is a kind of metaphor for our brief time in life, where we come from and what we bring to each other.

Photography

Related Blog Posts

GroundWorks Selected for Spotlight Showcase at 2017 Arts Midwest Conference

We are honored to have been selected from hundreds of applicants for one of 18 Spotlight Showcase spots at the 2017 Arts Midwest Conference - the region's top performing arts conference. Over 1,000 performing arts professionals

Meet Gemma Freitas Bender

Our newest company member Gemma Freitas Bender made her debut with GroundWorks during our Summer Dance Series at Cain Park in July. The Buffalo, New York-native, 23, and 2014-15 recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace

GroundWorks Summer Season Preview | Arts Air

Read an excerpt from "New Work Pushes GroundWorks DanceTheater's Dancers as Athletes and Performers" By Steve Sucato, Arts Air July 12, 2017 Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The old dog

  • NEA Logo

GroundWorks Awarded Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts!

We are delighted to share the news that the National Endowment for the Arts has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement

GroundWorks Summer Season Preview | Plain Dealer

GroundWorks DanceTheater staging new work steeped in sports passion at Summer Series By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer July 4, 2017 CLEVELAND, Ohio - A new work of dance is a terrible thing to waste.