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Dancer captivates audiences with saga of Xi Shi

ezhejiang.gov.cn| Updated: February 27, 2024 L M S


Dancer Sun Yitong portrays Xi Shi on a riverside stage in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. [Photo/Tide News]

During the Spring Festival holiday, the "Encounter with Xi Shi" night cruise along the Huansha River in Shaoxing has become a cultural sensation, attracting crowds to the historic hometown of Xi Shi (one of the "four beauties" in ancient China).

As night falls, the banks of the Huansha River light up with twinkling lights, providing the perfect backdrop for a waterborne performance centered on the legendary tale of Xi Shi's journey to the State of Wu during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

After boarding cruise ships, tourists are treated to a mesmerizing spectacle as Xi Shi dances gracefully on a central stage.

This innovative "Encounter with Xi Shi" night cruise combines traditional storytelling with modern theatricality, employing cutting-edge technology to create a captivating blend of live performance, visual artistry, and water effects.

 Covering a 6.6-kilometer round trip from Xi Shi's former residence to the Maozhu Wharf Bridge, the 55-minute spectacle unfolds against the backdrop of picturesque riverbanks.

At the heart of this cultural phenomenon is Sun Yitong, who hails from the distant province of Jilin. From mastering street dance and gymnastics in her early years to her formal training at Jilin University of Arts, Sun's dedication to performance has remained steadfast her whole life.


Dancer Sun Yitong portrays Xi Shi. [Photo/Tide News]

Yet, her portrayal of Xi Shi represents more than just artistic prowess. It requires a profound understanding of history and character. Delving deep into the annals of Xi Shi's legacy, Sun's interpretation movingly explores the complex motivations and sacrifices of this legendary figure.

Xi Shi, trained as a political pawn by King Goujian of the State of Yue, used her allure to bring about the demise of her enemy state, Wu. Xi Shi's beauty became burdensome, ultimately leading to her downfall. She was forced to face her tragic fate and choose between suicide and exile. While the result of her choice is lost to legend, her tale serves as a cautionary reminder of the dangers of political manipulation and the power of beauty.

Sun's commitment to her role extends far beyond the stage, with rigorous training regimens and strict dietary discipline ensuring her peak performance. Her dedication to her craft is matched only by her determination to honor the legacy of Xi Shi.

As the "Encounter with Xi Shi" cruise sets sail each evening, it heralds a new chapter in the cultural landscape of Zhuji. For spectators, witnessing Xi Shi's timeless tale come to life is a transcendent experience, bridging the gap between past and present.