The UW English Department and American Ethnic Studies Program will sponsor the world premiere of an original ballet about the forced removal of the Chinese community from the Puget Sound region on May 15. This year is the 125th anniversary of the expulsion.
Northwest Ballet Theaters Emerald Bay is a romantic ballet set in the Puget Sound region in 1885. At this time, not long after the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants were driven from the area. A modern variant on Shakespeares classic tale Romeo and Juliet, Emerald Bay recounts the tragic love story of a Chinese sea captain Li Puo and his lover, Julie OConnor, a young woman of Scots-Irish ancestry. Prominent historical figures in the ballet include Dirty Dan Harris, Goon Dip, and Mark Twain.
Feng Ning of Shanghai Ballet will perform in the principle role as Li Puo, and Christina Stockdale of Ballet Bellevue will perform as Julie OConnor. The ballet also includes representative dancers and character actors from the regions diverse communities, including Chinese, Irish, and Scottish dance traditions.
It features original choreography by artistic director John Bishop, formerly of American Ballet Theater, who recently directed Northwest Ballets Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.
Emerald Bay was created from a story by Christopher Wise that became a book, Emerald Bay: The Lost Archives of Mark Twain, published by Northwest Ballet Theater Publications. Wise is a professor of English at Western Washington University.
Emerald Bay will premiere at Meany Hall on May 15. It will also be performed at McIntrye Hall in Mount Vernon on June 4 & 5, and Mt. Baker Theater in Bellingham on June 11, 12, & 13. Tickets for the Meany performance are available online.