Ballet transcends nations' boundaries

Updated: 2015-02-12 11:33

By Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)

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 Ballet transcends nations' boundaries

Ma Xiaodong (left) and Wang Ye, principal dancers from the National Ballet of China, rehearse lead roles in Don Quixote with dancers from the Richmond Ballet in Virginia on Wednesday. Provided to China Daily

They say that dance goes beyond national boundaries. The Richmond Ballet and the National Ballet of China would agree.

Dancers from the two leading ballet companies are working together to put on Don Quixote in Richmond later this month.

"It really shows how dance, and ballet in particular, is an international language when you see that in one day, dancers of different languages came through and are already to this point," Stoner Winslett, artistic director for the Richmond Ballet, told reporters at the start of open rehearsal on Wednesday.

Wang Ye and Ma Xiaodong, two principal dancers representing the National Ballet of China, will have the lead roles for three performances at the Carpenter Theatre on Feb 20-22.

"Ballet requires the same paradigm around the world," Ma said. He spoke to China Daily during a rehearsal break. Ma plays Basilio, male lead in the classic drama. "Based on that, we speak the same language with the American dancers."

A 2009 graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy, Ma came across a fresh way of ballet expression during the drill.

"The most charming part of American dance is its expression, very natural and relaxing, coming with ease and little strain, just as the general character of American people," he said. "While in Europe and China, dancers are more cultivated into preciseness and exact."

Wang, who played the role of Kitri, the feisty lady in the comedic love triangle with Quixote and Basilio, said they were sent a video demo beforehand in China and practiced some of the American version. But it is unlike what they have performed in the Chinese version, as the drama is in the repertory of the National Ballet of China, and there still are some changes in the performing version.

"I have written a lot of notes," said Wang, who toured the US before with the National Ballet of China, as did Ma at the City Center in New York last October. The two performed at Havana's National Theater for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cuban President Ral Castro during Xi's visit there last July.

They both will stay in the US for about one month, reaching out to the local communities and also interacting with students outside the theater, arranged by the ballet.

Malcolm Burn, artistic associate of Richmond Ballet, guided the two Chinese dancers using physical gestures. "Dancing is a universal language itself, so it's not difficult," he said. "Just delightful."

Sheng Yang in Washington contributed to this story.