Raising the barre

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-29 07:13

No time for a breather

Though she is already 40, Tan has no plans to retire. In fact, her itinerary still seems as packed as it was decades ago.

Publishing the book was just one of numerous things Tan has been busy with since setting up the Tan Yuanyuan Ballet Studio in Shanghai in 2015. Apart from having to manage the studio, Tan and her colleagues have also organized forums and master classes. Despite her packed schedule, Tan still managed to perform in 70 shows by the San Francisco Ballet last year. She also revealed that she is currently working on creating a new neo-classical ballet production of a Chinese story.

"I work day and night. I am one of those people who will always complete what they say they will do," said Tan.

During last year's China Shanghai International Art Festival, the Tan Yuanyuan Ballet Studio hosted an international forum on choreography alongside the Shanghai Theatre Academy. During the forum, Feng Shuangbai, head of the China Dancers' Association, pointed out that China's dancers generally lack the ability to improvise, a result of the traditional training regime that focused largely on perfectly copying the movements illustrated by the teacher.

"When dancers are told to improvise, you would find that everyone ends up creating similar moves. The traditional pedagogy has been limited to imitation and this has led to the lack of creativity in Chinese ballet choreography," said Feng.

To address this problem, Tan invited two fellow dancers from the San Francisco Ballet and French choreographer Medhi Walerski to Shanghai in June.

These experts conducted master classes for 34 students, dancers and choreographers who came from the Shanghai Theatre Academy, the Shanghai Song and Dance Troupe, and the Shanghai Opera House dance group.

Tan said that these classes provided participants with "an eye-opening experience" that showcased dancing as a self-expression instead of a set of movements.

Liu, who used to be a leading member in the organizing committee of the China Shanghai International Art Festival, lavished praise on Tan for her valuable contributions to the art and dance scenes in the city.

"She always manages to participate in the festival as well as other major art events in Shanghai. Yuanyuan is an international ballet star and a national treasure. She is also a beloved daughter of Shanghai," he said.


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