Magnificent? Astounding? Spectacular? None of these adjectives come close to describing Impression West Lake in Hangzhou, China. Performers dance on stages that are set 3 cm into the Yuehu Lake—a natural part of West Lake—as they portray the Han folk story of Lady White Snake and Xu Xian. A dazzling light display turns the lake’s natural surroundings into an intricate part of the show. And the music of Japanese new age artist, Kitaro, adds a haunting element to the production. All of the magic takes place as the audience watches from an outdoor amphitheater as hundreds of performers in elaborate costumes dance, splash and act their way through the well known Chinese love story.
Does the creative combination of dance, music, lighting and costumes seem eerily familiar? Impression West Lake’s director is Zhang Yimou. The same Mr. Zhang who directed the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Alan and I attended Impression West Lake while on a small group luxury tour. Our group enjoyed dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel before walking a few blocks to the performance area. Although most of the audience sat in the outdoor amphitheater, our seats were in an enclosed tea house, which offered warmth on a chilly March night.
The dark setting made photography difficult, especially without a tripod, which is why I think that this photo from Alan is amazing. Don’t you agree? As you view the photo imagine sticks slapping vigorously into the water to a strident drumbeat.
Have you seen Impression West Lake? Were you as impressed as Alan and me? It’s a performance that we’ll never forget. Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email.