photo from here
We hadn't seen much of Hangzhou since we were ensconced in the beautiful Fuchun Resort for a number of meetings. But on our last night, the whole group was going to watch Impression West Lake. A few of the guys had seen it and said it was worth watching even twice. I couldn't begin to imagine what a "lake show" was so I had no expectations.
The director of the show is the famous Chinese movie director, Zhang Yimou, who also directed the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The music is by Kitaro.
The view towards the audience
We were led to our seats which was on a little floating platform. It was a cool moonless night and everyone stared out into the black lake with great anticipation.
For those of you who think you see a major "orb" in the middle of the photo--
sorry to disappoint you but that's an actual round screen that was propped up in the middle of the lake.
Taaa daaaah! The show begins and the audience oohs and aaahs at the lighting effects. It gets more impressive as the show progresses. Actors and dancers are all walking on the water, and after awhile I realize that this is a cast of hundreds--all doing some new age performance right on the lake (one of the guys in our group told us that the stage is built 3 cm under the water!).
It is similar to a Cirque de Soleil show in that there are no words, only action, and everything is set to music. The theme is a sad love story where boy meets girl, falls in love, gets married, gets separated. Each of the acts is a visual spectacle accompanied by hypnotizing music.
I found myself mesmerized and watching in a trance. It was getting much colder as the evening wore on, which only added to the total effect of the show. I can imagine having a different experience if it was a warm evening.
The surrounding scenery was dramatic. The lighting, which actually commanded the whole show, was stunning. I had never seen a production like this, so the thoughts popping in my head alternated between "Wow!", "what imagination!" and "what's that big triangle coming out of the water?"
Illuminated fish puppets swam in the darkness, lighted silhouettes of seagulls flew up and across the lake, giant mushrooms pulsated on the water and huge feathers did the "wave". How does one think up these concepts?
The show is impressive. I'm now curious about Zhang Yimao's other "Impression" shows. Our seatmate, who was from Shanghai told us he watched all three of the lake shows. I recently read that there are five of them now, all in different cities. Unlike the famous Cirque de Soleil shows, these shows will never be seen anywhere else because they are precisely "impressions" of a particular place. I think it's a brilliant marketing move for the city to create a cultural spectacle in naturally beautiful setting.
This is the theme song of Impression West Lake, and a preview of the show (but don't blame me if the melody stays with you the whole day...)