Travel Blog - Impression Lijiang
    2012-12-28 15:35:20         Web Editor: Luo Chun

Lijiang in northern Yunnan Province is considered one of the most visited sites in south China. Apart from its cobbled streets, old wooden buildings and gushing canals, there is another impressive scene worth experiencing°™the outdoor show "Impression Lijiang."

It is performed by about 500 local farmers wearing the traditional costumes of different ethnic groups. All the songs and dances in the show largely portray the daily life of the local people. Many who have watched the performance say it is one of the most impressive shows they have ever seen.

Let's follow Zhang Wan to take a closer look.


Impression Lijiang" is the second outdoor production by famous film director Zhang Yimou. The show is performed at the foot of Yulong Xueshan, or Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, in an open-air theater about 3,100 meters above sea level.

The performance stage is specially designed to highlight the mountain as the best backdrop of the show. More than 500 locals from 11 ethnic groups have been selected from 16 nearby towns and villages to take part in the performances, which include folk songs, dances and rituals.
Mr. Xu from Jiangsu Province is a visitor who just watched a performance of "Impression Lijiang."

"The show gave me the feeling that these performers were simply presenting their lives on the stage. Their performance comes from their daily lives. Meanwhile, it's not simply about their lives. I think I have gotten a better understanding of the local culture through the show. Especially when I watch the show with such stunning scenery as the background, I feel so happy and satisfied with my life. The sound in this outdoor theater is extremely impressive. I will definitely recommend this show to my friends."

Unlike many other shows that are performed in the evening with many lighting devices to create and enhance certain effects, "Impression Lijiang" is innovatively staged during daytime at the breathtaking location and backdrop.

Yang Weijiang, the artistic director of "Impression Lijiang," says the show itself is a celebration of local minority culture.

"Our performers are from 11 ethnic groups, but when we work together on 'Impression Lijiang,' we are a family, and we call ourselves the Impression Lijiang minority."

Li Zhiyue, a 23-year-old actor on the team, has been working with "Impression Lijiang" for more than seven years. She says she loves being a member of the team, because her job has given her a better life as well as an opportunity to sing and dance as a member of the Naxi ethnic minority group.

"People in Yunnan love singing and dancing. Even if I didn't perform here, I would sing and dance at home. You know, my mom also loves singing, especially when she is farming."

Li Zhiyue says her mother did not support her decision to join "Impression Lijiang" at first because of various concerns she had. But now, Li says her family often encourages her to work hard on the job.

"As the salary is comparatively high here, with my financial support, my family has built new houses, which are now being decorated these days. Moreover, I don't have to work eight hours a day. All I need to do is to attend the shows and rehearsals every day. For the rest of the day, I can go home."

Li Zhiyue says she enjoys presenting the Naxi minority's culture at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain where she has being living since she was born.
Yang Yun, another young actor from the Yi ethnic minority group, agrees. He says his life has changed thoroughly during the seven years he has worked with the team.

"Before I worked for 'Impression Lijiang,' I earned a living by farming. But I could only earn several thousands of yuan per year at that time. But now things are different. With my salary here, I've bought an apartment in the city. I've made a difference in my life."

Yang Weijiang, the artistic director of "Impression Lijiang," says the show, which has been performed for eight consecutive years, has become a leading cultural brand in the local tourism market.

"Over the past years, the income of our actors has grown several times compared to what it was in the beginning. When our show debuted years ago, most actors in our team lived in the dormitory near the theater. But now, only a few of them still live here. Many actors have bought their own cars and commute between the theater and their houses. So recently, we built the second parking lot near our theatre. I am afraid we'll build the third one in the near future if our show keeps growing like it has been."

"Impression Lijiang" is considered one of the most fascinating, beautiful performances in all of China. It moves you from your heart, and you'll know why there are tears in your eyes when it ends.

For CRI, I am Zhang Wan.


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