Performance | National Ballet of China Dunhuang



In the vast desert, the monk painter holding a lamp and flying apsaras are summoning all sentient beings from ancient to modern times.

After leaving Dunhuang, composer NIAN Yu continues her creation of Dunhuang music. While she is composing, the people and images in Dunhuang appear in her mind and turn into jumping notes on paper. She also remembers the unforgettable love between her and a Dunhuang protector, as well as her affection for Dunhuang.

Act I

Scene I

When the young NIAN Yu comes all the way to Dunhuang Mogao Grottos with her beloved violin, SHUI Wen and other protectors of Dunhuang give her a warm welcome. NIAN Yu can’t wait to appreciate the art here. The first time she enters the grottos, she finds the beauty of Dunhuang art beyond all her imagination.

NIAN Yu is attracted by a painter concentrating on copying the murals. He is WU Ming, a young talent.

After that, NIAN Yu and WU Ming often roam in these thousand-year-old grottos. The vivid murals are transformed into the jumping notes under NIAN Yu’s pen while the gorgeous colours nourish the “flower of love” in the desert.

Scene II

Under the gas lamp, WU Ming, SHUI Wen and several other protectors are passionately discussing the techniques of copying murals: KALAVIUKA jumping in a small area, Jiyue and Huxuan dances full of exotic colours, and the pilgrims moving forward piously on the road to the Buddha.

NIAN Yu is about to finish her music creation, so she suggests WU Ming to go to Paris with her and pursue his artistic dream. However, WU Ming hesitates because of the urgent protection work of Dunhuang.

Scene III

After NIAN Yu’s leave, a disaster befalls the Mogao Grottoes, which makes the people in Dunhuang experience a test of life and death.

A mysterious double-layer mural appears surprisingly after the disaster, the back of which reflects the history of a thousand years: monk painters in ancient times light lamps, dip the brush into ink and draw lines silently.

Act II

Scene I

The nights in Dunhuang often remind WU Ming of the past times he has spent with NIAN Yu. However, facing the rapid disappearance of the double-layer mural, he is so distraught that he keeps copying it with SHUI Wen even ignoring sleep or food. Even so, they can’t stop the mural fading day by day. Finally, WU Ming collapses in front of the mural due to hard work.

Scene II

In a trance, WU Ming seems to meet the monk painter living about a thousand years ago beyond time. Led by the heart lights, WU Ming enters the time and space of the origin of Dunhuang. In the murals, the flying apsaras are dancing and countless artistic lives of Dunhuang are blooming while outside the murals, Dunhuang art is fading.

Scene III

The heart lights go on and off alternately. It seems that WU Ming is enlightened under the guidance of the monk painter, which makes him strive to keep the beauty of Dunhuang.


When returning to Dunhuang, NIAN Yu, standing on the yellow sand under the blue sky, looks into the distance with tears in her eyes. Facing the reality and recalling the past, she feels that a bright world is slowly opening before her. WU Ming seems to be standing side by side with other protectors in front of her.

All things become immortal like sand in the desert.

Although the desert is full of difficulties and dangers, it has never stopped people’s yearning and pursuit of beauty. Under the tombstones in the sea of sand quietly rest souls, whose life used to be as brilliant as murals and finally turn into beams of light.

Following the light, generations of protectors of Dunhuang keep moving forward.

Presenter/ Producer: National Ballet of China

Chief Planner/ Managing Producer: FENG Ying

Stage Director/ Librettist: FEI Bo

Composer: GUO Wenjing (Guest)

Assistant Composer: CHEN Xinruo (Guest)

Choreographers: FEI Bo, WANG Sizheng, WANG Qi

Cooperative Set Designers: Michael Simon (Guest), GONG Xun

Lighting Designer: LIU Zhao

Costume Designer: ZHANG Shuping (Guest)

Make-up/ Hair Style Designer: XU Bin

Assistant Make-up/ Hair Style Designer: LI Ziyi

Video Projection Designer: HU Tianji (Guest)


NIAN Yu: WANG Qimin/ QIU Yunting/ WANG Ye

WU Ming: MA Xiaodong/ SUN Ruichen/ ZHENG Yu

SHUI Wen: QIU Yunting/ ZHAN Xinlu/ SUN Yimeng

Leading Flying Apsaras: FANG Mengying/ XU Yan

Double Male Flying Apsaras: SUN Haifeng/ SHE Zhaohuan/ WU Sicong/ CHEN Zhuming

Monk Painters: LI Zhuangzhuang


Jiyue & Huxuan Dancers: LIU Xuechen/ WANG Jiyu/ ZHANG Xi

The appearance of dancers shall be subject to the actual performance.