Opens tonight: L'Amour Immortel- A story of untimely love and struggle.


By Nicole Garbellini





Love endures. In this world - or any other.


Tonight I was invited to the dress rehearsal of L'Amour Immortel, a most enduring story from the literary classic Strange Tales and staged by Hong Kong Dance Company.  Written by Pu Songling three centuries ago, the tale was also adapted into Hong Kong’s classic movie "A Chinese Ghost Story"; it chronicles the forbidden love between a beautiful, bewitching ghost and an honourable scholar.



The show opened with a prologue that reminded me a lot of a Greek chorus, where women wearing white tunics danced together before the arrival of the demon. The white colour, so dominant on the empty stage, created a strong feeling of purity and innocence up until the advent of the devil, bringing an abrupt change of lights and, consequently, of mood. The colours of the lighting and the flowing costumes created a sense of movement that completed the visual created by this beautiful ensemble.





The audience was guided through the story by subtitles as the good-natured scholar Ning Caichen entered, passing through the public under torrential "rain". Seeking shelter at the temple, he encounters Nie Xiaoqian, a beautiful, bewitching ghost; for the two oblivious characters, it is love at first sight. Nie has been coerced by a demon to prey on humans, but her views quickly change as she meets the sweet-looking scholar. Throughout the whole performance, the moments of intensity between the two lovers were magical. Their first encounter was sweet, innocent and somewhat playful, but built up throughout the performance, leaving room for more intense and passionate moments. As I watched Nie (Tang Ya) and Ning (Sun Gongwei) taking the audience through their crossed-star love, I felt like time had stopped, and I forgot about the outside world. Their flawless dance, together with the intensity of the soundtrack, was pure beauty.





For their love to survive, the couple must traverse the shadowy underworld to defend their love and freedom. Moments of separation alternated with moments of reunion, creating a suspense of hope for the audience. The chorus of dancers made every minute dynamic and engaging, from the market to the underworld scene, where a group of spirited demons completed the visuals through the use of ribbons tied to the ceiling, intensifying, even more, the lack of escape and hope. Will Nie defy the netherworld to save her love from evil forces, even at the cost of her own immortality?



There was not a single dull, slow, or unclear moment during the whole show. It does not matter whether one has any knowledge of Chinese tradition or Chinese dance. L'Amour Immortel would suit anyone who enjoys watching real dancing talent on stage: it is simply a beautiful, sweet story portrayed in the most gracious manner.





It was the first time for me to watch the work of Hong Kong Dance Company but I will certainly go back for more. To our readers: grab tickets while they are still available, and don't miss this show. I truly mean it. 


L'Amour Immortel opens tonight. For more information, click here.


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