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For the first time in Australia, the National Ballet of China performs one of the twentieth century's most striking cultural icons.

One of the great ballet companies of the world, National Ballet of China have accepted an invitation to perform one of the most vivid cultural icons of the twentieth century exclusively for Asia TOPA.

Created and premiered in 1964, The Red Detachment of Women fuses the athleticism and rigour of Chinese ballet with a stylish and colour-saturated design and striking original score.

Set in the 1930s on the lush tropical island of Hainan, The Red Detachment of Women is based on the stories of an all-female company of the communist Red Army. A peasant girl who has escaped the clutches of a tyrannical landlord joins the Red Detachment brigade and leads them to defeat her former tormentor and liberate the people.

Famously performed for President Nixon and Henry Kissinger on their visit to China in 1972 (an event later dramatised in the opera Nixon in China) its imagery has become cemented in western popular culture and its striking score and sumptuous imagery are instantly recognisable. Much more than a historical curiosity or propaganda relic, The Red Detachment of Women remains one of China's most significant ballets for local audiences and more recently the company’s flagship work performing in the great houses of Europe and North America.

For this exclusive season, the ballet is performed by an outstanding ensemble of 67 dancers accompanied by Orchestra Victoria and local choir to produce a spectacular presentation of one of the most memorable cultural works of the modern era.

“With enthusiastic and spectacularly talented principals such as Zhang Jian, Lu Na and Zhou Zhaohui, this production seems like a genuine celebration of life, and not just a museum piece. The sets are glorious, all lucent greens and azures; and the score, performed by Orchestra Victoria, is incredibly lush.”

The Age (2017)


Choreographed by Li Chengxiang, Jiang Zuhui and Wang Xixian
Music by Du Mingxin, Wu Zuqiang, Wang Yanqiao, Shi Wanchun and Dai Hongcheng

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Arts Centre MelbourneSidney Myer Fund

The Red Detachment of Women is presented with support from Arts Centre Melbourne and the Sidney Myer Fund.

Asia TOPA is a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne and is supported by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

The Red Detachment of Women

A National Ballet of China production presented by Arts Centre Melbourne in association with The Australian Ballet and Orchestra Victoria

Date & Time:

15 – 18 February 2017

Wednesday 15 February, 7pm
Friday 17 February, 7pm
Saturday 18 February, 2pm
Saturday 18 February, 7pm

Act I – 60 minutes
Interval – 20 minutes
Act II – 55 minutes


Platinum Reserve+

Standard: $169
Package: $143.65

Premium Reserve

Standard: $149
Package: $126.65


Standard: $99
Concession*: $89
Group#: $89.10
Package: $84.15


Standard: $89
Concession*: $79
Package: $75.65


Standard: $79
Concession*: $69
Package: $67.15

*Concession: Applies to persons  Under 16, MEAA, Pensioners, Unemployed, Full-time Students, Health Care Card Holders, Victoria Care Card Holders

#Groups of 4 or more available through Box Office and Contact Centre only

+Platinum Reserve includes a show program plus a beer, wine, soft drink or ice cream with VIP access to the foyer bar

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