Universal Ballet

The Butterfly Lovers

Universal Ballet Premiere Seoul Arts Center CJ Towol Theater on June 18, 2021
Choreography Bingxian Liu
Music Butterfly Lover’s Violin Concert
Staging Bingxian Liu
Set Design Seungcheol Kim
Costume Design Yeonju Jung
Lighting Design Nak-cheon Kang
Running Time 30 minutes

愛: The Butterfly Lovers」 is based on the Chinese legend of a tragic story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo (Romeo) and Zhu Yingtai (Juliet). The story has been selected as one of China’s Four Great Folktales. This story of a pair of young lovers who reincarnate as butterflies and join together after their death is well loved by the people of China and has been adapted into many forms: television drama, movie, musical, opera and ballet. Artistic Director Liu beautifully recreates this work with lyrical and restrained choreography. He focuses on movements of the fingertips and a gaze that invoke the sensibility of Chinese traditional dance along with the formality of classic ballet. A restrained group dance which references Chinese martial arts brings a dynamic element that contrasts with the lyricism of the lovers.


Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (梁山伯與祝英台)

Dating back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-419 AD)
Although women are traditionally discouraged from taking up scholarly pursuits, Zhu Yingtai manages to convince her father to allow her to attend classes disguised as a man. During her journey to school, she meets Liang Shanbo, and as they study together for the next three years in school, Zhu gradually falls in love with Liang. Later Liang discovers that she is actually a woman, and they are devoted to and passionate about each other. However, Zhu's parents have already arranged for her to marry a wealthy man. Liang is heartbroken when he hears the news, after which his health gradually deteriorates, and he soon dies. On the day of Zhu’s wedding, strong winds prevent the wedding procession from escorting the bride beyond Liang's grave, which lies along the journey. Zhu leaves the procession to pay her respects at Liang's grave. Suddenly, the grave opens with a clap of thunder. Without further hesitation, Zhu throws herself into the grave to join Liang. Their spirits emerge in the form of a pair of butterflies and fly away together, never to be separated again.