How would you like to take a trip through China and experience its performing arts? Perhaps you don’t have the time or resources for such a vacation, but you can get a sense of being there during “Memory 5D+” at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium May 26 and 27 during the production’s first stop on its world tour.
“Memory 5D+” features a range of traditional performances, including Chinese acrobatics, Dolan Muqam music, Khoomei (Tuvan throat singing), shadow play, Suzhou Pingtan (storytelling and ballad singing), Tibetan folk songs and Urlin Duu (Mongolian Long Tune).
The production was created by China Film HuaTeng Movies & TV Culture Co. founder and general director Ulan Xuerong and is woven together with a scenario by John Hughes (visual effects artist for films such as “Frozen” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”). Creative designer Tom E. Marzullo (who created, designed and directed tours for acts such as Justin Bieber, KISS and Prince) provides the production’s backdrop of high-definition digital video and lighting, 7.1 surround sound, lasers and aromatic sensory technology.
“It’s a story about love, but this is not a traditional story of love; it’s about the art of love, how to love between the human being and nature and the universe,” Xuerong said. “It’s more of a spiritual feeling. Love is the most mysterious wonder of the universe. Love can solve a lot of issues and problems in this world.”
Born and raised in Mongolia, Xuerong has nurtured the idea for “Memory 5D+” for nearly 20 years. It grew out of the passion she has for the nature and the culture of her homeland. Xuerong thought that, by combining it with Hollywood’s advanced technology, she could present a show that would offer a true reflection of China. Audiences will be fully immersed in the production through sight, sound and even smell, but at the core of it all are the performers.
“My motherland, there is a name for it, ‘song of the ocean and the homeland of dances,’ ” Xuerong said. “(The people) don’t package themselves in an artificial way, they perform what they’re feeling. They are more interested in improv and what they are feeling at the time. Through the storyline, these performances, you can feel the vibration and the feeling from their heart.”
The majority of the music for “Memory 5D+” is original, but it is written in its traditional style and is performed by top Chinese musicians who are known for the particular instruments they play.
Konghou (Chinese harp) player Lucina Yue and guitarist Erkin Abdulla are two of the musicians who will be performing in “Memory 5D+.” They come from the same area of China and both reside in the United States, Yue in New York City and Abdulla in Riverside.
“The performance has an elegant makeup and look, the background, lighting, the whole combination will make it easier and help me to tell the story,” Yue said. “Usually at a music concert they’ll come only for the music, the instrument, ... but with this show people might not just like my music, they might be fascinated by the culture.”
“ ‘Memory’ is back-to-nature, when combined with the technology, that makes it very different,” Abdulla said. “Also I will play with a lot of elite musicians on all kinds of instruments. … They all have very unusual instruments. I think this is a good exhibition of Chinese instruments.”
China, like America, is a melting pot of ethnic groups. What makes this show special, Hughes, said, is that it includes music from all over China and offers a story of harmony in which all the different groups get along. To express this, the yin and yang symbol has been personified in the show in the form of two dancers, one representing the black force and the other, the white. A third character, the flower goddess, completes the tale of a classic love triangle.
“It has a striking, fascinating plot,” Xuerong said. “It also has very romantic, very quiet moments. Your heart is going to follow the beat of the story. We want to grab your attention. We don’t want you to stand up and go buy popcorn. We want you to watch to the end.”