Virginia on the road to China

Updated: 2014-03-20 12:06

By Chen Weihua in Richmond (China Daily USA)

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Virginia on the road to China

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (left) announces a historic visit to China by the Richmond Ballet in May 2015 at a ceremony in the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on Wednesday, while Lu Kang (center), minister and deputy chief of mission from the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC, and Stoner Winslett, artistic director of the Virginia Ballet, look on. Sun Chenbei / China Daily

The State of Virginia is seeking strong ties with China with Governor Terry McAuliffe announcing on Wednesday a historic visit to China by the Richmond Ballet and a series of cultural and economic exchanges.

McAuliffe, who took office two months ago, said the Richmond Ballet had accepted an invitation to perform at the 15th Annual "Meet in Beijing" Arts Festival in Beijing in May 2015.

The trip will mark the ballet's first trip to Asia and its second international tour, following its successful run at the Royal Opera House in London in June 2012.

"The invitation for Richmond Ballet to perform in China marks a significant and important step not only for the ballet, but in continuing an open and productive cultural dialogue between Virginia and our most valuable trading partner, China," McAuliffe said at a ceremony held in the Virginia State Capitol.

The Richmond Ballet, a leading mid-size ballet company in the US, has planned a year-long Road to China program, which will celebrate Chinese culture in the US throughout its 2014-2015, a season that marks the company's 30th anniversary.

Besides the trip to Beijing, the program will also include the arrival next February of two guest dancers from the National Ballet of China to share the stage with Richmond Ballet dancers for the company's performance of Don Quixote.

China will also be featured in the ballet's community outreach program, known as Minds in Motion, in both Richmond and Charlottesville.

The Richmond Ballet also plans to schedule a series of events designed to encourage diverse communities across Virginia to become more engaged in movement and dance and the Richmond Ballet plans a gala for Feb 28, 2015 to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

"What an overwhelming addition to our 30th anniversary season!" exclaimed Stoner Winslett, artistic director of the Richmond Ballet, known as the State Ballet of Virginia. "Who would have thought - an invitation from China, a fascinating place with such rich cultural heritage? We are humbled and we are honored by this invitation."

Lu Kang, minister and deputy chief of mission of the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC, said he is very proud to officially welcome the Richmond Ballet as one of the celebrated performers expected to take the stage for one of the most significant arts festivals in China.

"Cultural exchanges such as the Road to China program advance mutual understanding and help substantiate the new model of major country relationship envisioned by President Xi Jinping and President Obama at their Sunnylands meeting last year," Lu said.

Winslett talked about dance being the expression of the human spirit and the Richmond Ballet's mission to awaken and uplift the human spirit, both for audiences and artists.

She said she is also looking forward to learning about their friends in China and furthering cultural exchanges.

"This represents an exciting new horizon for us here at the ballet," said Winslett.

"The chance to explore a fascinating interesting culture, so historic and majestic, and of course so different from our own, is an opportunity I know our dancers cherish. I am so proud to take first steps along this Road to China, as we seek to share the power of dance and its special ability to communicate and connect our souls when words fail us," she said.

McAuliffe described the relationship between China and the US as one of the most important political and economic relationships in the world today. "Cultural exchange programs such as this historic tour for our state ballet company and ballet series Road to China program are a very important and significant part of that relationship," he said.

He said Virginia has a long-standing, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship with China, one built solidly on the economic pillars of trade and investment.

China is already the largest customer of Virginia's agricultural and forestry products and one of the state's largest trade partners. China also is a top 15 global investor in Virginia.

McAuliffe revealed that he will lead a trade mission to Asia in October that will include several stops in China.

"I hope this trade mission will offer an opportunity to increase Chinese investment but also more cultural ties, open up more trade and more personal visits between China and Virginia," he said. "This is a win-win situation for the Commonwealth of Virginia and China."


(China Daily USA 03/20/2014 page1)