About this Recording
82011 - Red Detachment of Women (Ballet)

The Red Detachment of Women
[1] Overture Act 1:
(a) Dance of Lao Si and the Civil Corps
(b) Wu Qinghua's Solo Dance

[2] Act 2:
(a) Drill of the Woman Soldiers
(b) The Get-together of the Soldiers and the Villagers
(c) Wu Qinghua Joining the Red Army

[3] Act 3:
(a) Dance of the Slave Girls
(b) Dance of the Li Tribe
(c) The Civil Corps' Broadsword Dance and Lao Si's Boxing Dance
(d) The Red Army Taking Nan's Mansion
(e) Hong Changqing Ordering the Opening of Nan's Barn
(f) Hong Changqing Inquiring Wu Qinghua with Deep Concern

[4] Act 4:
(a) The Politics Lesson
(b) Wu Qinghua's Solo Dance
(c) Dance of Wu Qinghua and the Detachment Commander's Shooting Dance
(d) The Flourishing Red Army
(e) Dance of the Women Soldiers and the Old Cook
(f) The Get-together of the Soldiers and the Villagers

[5] Act 5:
(a) Blocking Dance of Wu Qinghua and the Soldiers
(b) Dance of the Red Flag
(c) Combat Dance of Hong Changqing and Two Soldiers
(d) Hong Changqing Against the Enemies

[6] Act 6:
(a) Nan Batian and Lao Si in Death Throes
(b) Hong Changqing's Heroic Death
(c) Liberation
(d) Turning Grief Into Strength
(e) Victory! Marching Triumphantly
(11 :14)

The Red Detachment of Women is a six-act ballet adapted by the China Central Ballet Troupe from the screen-play of the same title by Liang Xin. Choreography was by Li Chengxiang, Jiang Zuhui and Wang Xixian and the music by Wu Zuqiang, Du Mingxin, Wang Yanqiao, Shi Wangchun and Dai Hongwei. The ballet was first staged in Beijing in 1964.

Since its first performance The Red Detachment of Women has proved popular with Chinese musicians and dancers, as well as with the public. It was hailed in China as the first Revolutionary Ballet and danced by other companies throughout the whole country. The work received still wider currency with a film version in the early 1970s featuring the China Central Ballet Troupe.

The music of The Red Detachment of Women, which includes some of the best known melodies in China, characterizes the hero Hong Changqing and the heroine Wu Qinghua in clear terms and makes good use of folk-melodies from Hainan Island. These last elements are heard, for example, in the Dance of the Li Tribe in Act 3. The orchestra includes a number of traditional Chinese instruments, the lusheng, sheng (Chinese reed-pipe instrument), zhudi, haidi (Chinese flutes), suona (Chinese oboe), pipa (Chinese lute), liuqin, zhongruan, dasanxian (plucked instruments) and bangu, xiaotanggu, jingluo and xiaoluo (Chinese percussion instruments), all of which enrich the score and add local colour.


[1] The action of the ballet is set in the decade of civil war in China that began in 1927, the struggle between the Red Army of the Chinese Workers and Chinese Peasants, led by the Communist Party, and the Kuomintang. The scene is a village on Hainan Island, Coconut Grove Village, where a wicked landlord, Nan Batian, oppresses the people. Wu Qinghua revolts against this oppression, is imprisoned and tortured, but when Lao Si, Nan Batian's henchman, comes to take her to be sold, she escapes, pursued by Nan Batian's guards. Wu Qinghua is captured and Nan Batian orders her to be whipped, and she falls to the ground, unconscious and apparently dead, as a storm is heard approaching. Nan Batian and Lao Si, with their men, hurry away, but Wu Qinghua recovers and with difficulty staggers away in the driving rain. Collapsing again, she is found by a Red Army officer, Hong Changqing, accompanied by a messenger Xiao Pang, who are out on reconnaissance. She tells them how she has been treated and how Nan Batian oppresses the village. They return to the Red Army base, where the establishment of the Red Detachment of Women is being celebrated.

[2] Wu Qinghua is welcomed and when the Red Army men and the Red Guards hear her story they resolve to avenge her wrongs and free the villagers from the tyranny of Nan Batian. Hong Changqing hands Wu Qinghua a rifle.

[3] It is Nan Batian's birthday and his house is crowded with guests, among them Hong Changqing, disguised as an overseas Chinese businessman here to congratulate his host. Meanwhile the Red Detachment of Women prepares for action, with the inside help of Hong Changqing. Wu Qinghua and another woman make their way secretly into the house and when Nan Batian comes out to bid his guests farewell she rashly shoots at him, before the planned assault is ready. Nan Batian, only wounded, escapes through a tunnel, with Leo Si and his other supporters. When they hear the shots the Red Detachment of Women launch their attack and seize the village, opening the granaries of the landlord to bring some relief to the peasants.

[4] Wu Qinghua's premature use of her rifle is criticised by the commander and she gradually comes to understand revolutionary principles, training hard to improve her efficiency in combat. As the Red Army and the people rejoice together. Xiao Pang rides in with news of a planned attack by the Kuomintang.

[5] Hong Changqing and the commander lead their soldiers out to a counter-offensive in which Wu Qinghua and her comrades fight bravely, repulsing one attack after another. Hong Changqing is wounded and captured by the enemy, as he tries to cover the withdrawal of his comrades.

He defies the threats and promises of Nan Batian and is finally burned to death by his captors. The bugle sounds for battle. The main body of the Red

[6] Army is pitted against Nan Batian and the Kuomintang. Wu Qinghua dashes forward and kills Lao Si and then Nan Batian. The enemy is destroyed and the commander announces the appointment of Wu Qinghua as Communist Party representative of the Red Detachment of Women. She solemnly accepts the document-case that Hong Changqing had once held.

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