On 15 May 2015, the stage premiere of Christian Jost’s ballet Rotkammertraum (Dream of the Red Chamber) will be given in Essen by Folkwang Tanzstudio, with choreography by Fang Yu Shen. Stage design is by Günther Hellweg, and costumes are designed by Min Lin. The work is an adaptation of Cao Xuequin’s Chinese novel of the same name, and is one of many events commissioned by the Beijing Cao Xuequin Society around the world to mark the author’s 300th anniversary this year.
Xueqin’s only known work, the novel is one of the best-selling in the world and is considered among the most important works in Chinese literature. The complex storyline deals with the social decline of an aristocratic family and is told using more than 400 characters. Jost responds to the intricacy of the text by designing several electronic sound modules: separate sections that can be combined in new ways for each performance. This creates a multitude of possibilities that reflects the variety of dimensions offered in the text.
Jost’s interest in Chinese culture dates back to the 1990s and he has worked closely with Chinese orchestras including Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The soundworld of the ballet is characterised by bells, gongs and drums, all of which contribute to the very sensual, atmospheric quality of the ballet.
“In all of my pieces I am looking for the surreal, that tiny line where truth meets fantasy.” – Christian Jost
Following the premiere there will be further performances on 16, 22 and 23 May with plans to tour the production in China.