The Phenomenal ‘Impression West Lake’

June 20, 2011 in Best Of, China, Entertainment, Misc, Travel by pacejmiller

My final Hangzhou post is a cracker.  It was our last night there and we got tickets to see Impression West Lake, an outdoor extravaganza everybody told us we must see if we were even within a hundred miles of Hangzhou.

It’s hard to put the show into words.  Brought to life by Zhang Yimou, director of the films Hero and House of Flying Daggers and the guy behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Impression West Lake is one of several ‘folk musicals’ (according to Wikipedia) set across various parts China (the others being Liu Sanjie, Lijiang, Hainan and Dahingpao).

There’s lights, there’s dancing and there’s marvellous music — and I think there is a love story in there somewhere.  Hundreds of actors in beautiful traditional dress, running and dancing across the freezing water of the massive lake, colourful lights illuminating the river surface and the night sky, giant mechanical boats and structures floating on and appearing out of the water — it really was a splendid spectacle, the likes of which I had never seen before.

The only complaint was that the show had to be set outdoors, and since it was in March and at night, it was absolutely freezing.  Even with gloves, I honestly couldn’t feel my hands by the time the show began.  I couldn’t imagine what the poor actors splashing in the water were feeling.

Anyway, I will let the magic of the photos speak for themselves.  We actually weren’t allowed to take them but everybody was snapping away so I joined in.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the best camera, though I did try do make it slightly clearer through some primitive editing.