Zhang Yimou’s Productions

Film director Zhang Yimou achieved international acclaim with his production of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

If you were impressed with his Olympics production, you will be in awe of his Impression series which he has been creating years before the 2008 Olympics.

Impression is a series of shows throughout China which highlight nature’s beauty and the legends of Chinese traditions. Using the natural environment as the outdoor stage, Yimou impresses audiences with his masterful creations with lights, music, and choreography.

Witnessing his shows are a tourism draw. Impression Sanjie Liu in Yangshuo, Impression Lijiiang, and Impression West Lake are must-see productions for any lover of the arts – and even if you aren’t you will undoubtedly be impressed with Zhang Yimou’s Impression.


Impression West Lake Show, Hangzhou

Yimou’s third Impression production premiered in 2007 in Hangzhou’s West Lake using the water as the physical stage.

Impression West Lake recounts a thousand-year-old love story in a five-act play through the couple’s encounter, falling in love, saying goodbye, their memories, and the lasting impression.

The open-air production uses all of the lake’s natural beauty – from the waters to the trees to the mountains in the backdrop. The co-star of the stage is the lighting production which draws in audiences through colors and movement. Equally astonishing, if not more, is the cast of hundreds of actors and dancers flowing in rhythm to the enchanting music.

The production briefly closed for renovations and revamping. It reopened earlier this year to more rave reviews. The show was most recently presented to the G20 Summit impressing the leaders of the world.

You can book tickets online through private tour operators or ask your hotel’s concierge for assistance. There are various seating options, including a VIP Boat Seat. While that may be appealing, the vantage point from the center seats has optimal views of the entire production.


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As the sun sets on the West Lake, rehearsal lights from the production can be seen from a distance behind the trees. The show begins when the skies are completely dark as the stage lighting is one of the stars of the production
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Darkened sky sets the stage. The natural beauty of the West Lake is the actual stage for the show. The trees and mountains are the backgrounds and the water is the platform for the performers
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There are several sections for seating according to the layout and pricing. The best seats to enjoy optimal views of the show are in the center. Like with other theater productions, I prefer the center loge or mezzanine for the complete view of the stage
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You can also sit in the Boat Seats set on the side of the stage with just a select number of seats for exclusivity. While the idea of the seats here is highly appealing, I found the view to be too far off to the side and the beams of the boat were an obstruction to the production
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And the show begins. The production is a five-act play which shares the classic myths and legends of the West Lake through the characters, dances, and songs
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Lighting is a star of the show. The colors and the movement of the lights dancing along with the rhythms and beats of the much draw your eyes all over the stage and lake
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The lake is also designed with impressed props which further enhance the movement of the water and to utilize the massive size of the natural stage
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Like with all of Zhang Yimou’s theater productions, the casting and choreography of hundreds of performers add tenfold to the magic
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The show lasts for just over an hour and for every second you will be completely captivated by the lightings, performers, music, and massive West Lake as the stage
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From the foreground to the background, you eyes are drawn to wherever the lighting directs you. Zhang Yimou has masterfully showcased the art of theater set on nature
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Every image and the entire production will leave you with a lasting impression. And impression so memorable, you will surely want to see Zhang Yimou’s other productions in China


TripAdvisor reviews and photos of Impression West Lake


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