CriticalDance Forum

Ballet in Asia 2000
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Author:  Kevin Ng [ Sat Dec 23, 2000 4:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Yes, Basheva, Western stars and ballet companies are more highly regarded in Japan than their national dance practitioners. And I guess that Japanese ballet companies prefer to tour Europe and America instead of within Asia, as it would bring more prestige for them back home. In Japan, these companies also regularly invite guest stars from western companies too, as it would boost their box-office. <p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited December 24, 2000).]

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Mon Dec 25, 2000 1:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Found this news item in the Chinese newspaper People's Daily. <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Dec 25, 2000 6:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

That's really fascinating Kevin, about the Japanese view of ballet. I guess it will take them awhile until they feel really comfortable and begin to realize the glory of their own home grown dancers - just as it did for us here in the USA.<P>I also really enjoyed the link to the Chinese newspaper. There was a lot of intersting stuff in there!! (even the stuff not about dance was great)<P>I scanned down the page and found this - which is a bit more about the gala. It was interesting that the article seems to be saying that the ballet is only about 100 years old. That could be a mistake as I suppose this English version is a translation from the Chinese edition of the newspaper - or perhaps I just misunderstood it.<P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>Five Chinese Ballet Troupes Gather in Beijing for the Coming Gala</A><P><BR>

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Mon Dec 25, 2000 7:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Ballet is only 40 years old in China, according to the article, and I think the reporter got this fact right. This English article is definitely a translation of the original article in the Chinese edition. I wonder whether this newspaper also reviewed the Dance Theatre of Harlem's tour to China last month.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Dec 25, 2000 5:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Check out the latest Hong Kong newsletter from Kevin on our <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>News page</A>.<P>Here's an excerpt:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>On 15 December the Hong Kong Ballet opened its annual 10-day run of "Nutcracker". This production by artistic director Stephen Jefferies, premiered three years ago, was danced with slightly more coherence than in previous years.<P>The chief merit of this production are the lavish sets and costumes designed by British designer Peter Farmer, instead of the actual dancing. The red draperies in Act 1 evoke a Victorian dressing room, while the blue and white backdrop for the ice palace is quite tasteful. The production faithfully follows the original libretto by Hoffmann, but with some modifications in the choreographic text which are not however an improvement on the original Ivanov choreography.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>More</A>

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Dec 25, 2000 7:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Kevin - that was extremely interesting, I really did enjoy reading your newsletter. It would be very interesting to see any reviews of the Dance Theater of Harlem in China, they are a favorite company of mine.

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Mon Dec 25, 2000 11:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Thanks, Basheva. I just found 2 more ballet pieces in another Chinese newspaper 'China Daily' on the Chinese ballet scene. (Can't find anything yet on the DTH.)<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited December 26, 2000).]

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Dec 26, 2000 6:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Thank you, Kevin, for those two articles. I remember seeing tapes of "Red Detachment of Women" and "White Haired Girl" - and the wonderful dancers - truly terrific.<P>It seems very likely that in China and Japan, ballet will find new life lines of talent in both dancers and choreographers. New themes for storylines. It truly amazes me, and always has, how the people of these cultures have taken western arts (symphonic music, ballet, etc.) and made it their own. How quickly they have excelled at it. One need only look at the current crop of pianists, violinists, conductors, to see this. <P>I hope they don't lose sight of their own unique arts and continue to give them the attention and love due to them. Sometimes when we embrace the art of others, we tend to denigrate our own.

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Tue Dec 26, 2000 5:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Grace, I've also heard in the past about Japanese dancers having to pay to enter their national companies. But I am sure that the situation has improved in the last decade. The New National Theatre Ballet, as I mentioned above, was established 3 years ago, and is as professional a company as any western company. And Kumakawa's K Ballet is another prominent Japanese company.

Author:  Xinxin [ Wed Dec 27, 2000 8:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Very interesting topic for me.<BR>I think there are more than 40 ballet companies in Japan. Many of them can do full length ballet I saw a La Bayadere by New National Theater Ballet (with Carlos Acosta of RB and Anna Antonicheva as guests, and John Lanchbery as the guest conductor) in Tokyo last month and enjoyed it very much. I also saw 2 performances by Tokyo Ballet: Bejart Gala in October and Sleeping Beauty in November. The former was quite nice but the latter was less enjoyable, because of its rugged production, though Vlamimer Malakhov was on the stage. <P>I also saw Korean National Ballet in Beijing this summer. There were 2 or 3 very good principal dancers in the company. A female principal dancer was trained at Vaganova Academy and another at Bolshoi. Many Japanese and Korean ballet students go to European countries (or Russia) to get better education and training. <P>Things in China are quite different. Ballet training system in China is quite similar to that in Russia. Only selected girls and boys can go to dance schools, and they get very serious and professional training there. That's why we have the best corps de ballet in Asia (I am sure). The Chinese ballet schools and companies sometimes will have an exchange program with a Western ballet school or a company, so that they can send their students or dancers there for further study. But Chinese ballet students usually do not have enough money to go to European ballet schools by themselves, unless they get a Lausanne prize.<P>I saw the Xmas eve Gala (by 5 Chinesecompanies). I t was a good chance to watch those fresh Varna Competition Winners. But to be honest, I did not enjoy the performance very much, because I think it was more political than artistic. <P>National Ballet of China has a very good Corp de ballet and some pretty good soloists. But the most serious problem with the company is that it does not have enough principal dancers. There were 6 principal dancers in the company last year, (Female: Zhu Yan, Li Yan and Zhang Jian. Male: Ta Mila, Sun Jie and Xu Gang), but only 2 prima-ballerinas and 1 male principal now. Li Yan just retired this year (to go to school again, she said). Ta Mila, the company's best male dancer also left for an American company (I can not remember its name but I think Kevin knows). Xu Gang is no longer dancing, and Sun Jie says he wants to retire very soon. Some of the he female soloist dancers are quite good, but they are too tall to be partnered. Male soloist dancers are less good, I can not find anyone qualified to dance with Zhu Yan (Our proud prima ballerina. Franck Anderson as well as other guest choreographers like her very much). In that Xmas Eve Gala performance, Zhu Yan was partnered by Han Bo, (a young guy with pretty good technique), but he looked too nervous and too small for her. I don't think he will be a potential partner with Zhu Yan at all. I think the better way to solve the problem is to seek some guest dancers (from Russia), but Zhao Ruheng, the Director of NBC does not agree, she says a National Company can not hire foreigners (By the way, there are some foreign players in China National Symphony Orchestra).<P>FYI.<P>[This message has been edited by Xinxin (edited December 27, 2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by Xinxin (edited December 28, 2000).]

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Wed Dec 27, 2000 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Xinxin, thanks for your information on the National Ballet of China. I didn't realise that the company is now so thin in the top level. Ta Mila is with Tulsa Ballet in America this year, and I wonder if he'll return to dance in China. I was very impressed by Zhu Yan in "La Sylphide".

Author:  Xinxin [ Wed Dec 27, 2000 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Thanks, Kevin, <BR>We had some very good male dancers in 1980s. Some of them are still dancing with the western companies.<BR>When Rudolf Nureyev came to teach his Don Q, he liked the company's male dancers very much. I heard once he had dinned with 6 male dancers at Maxim, then the best and (of course) the most expensive western restaurant in Beijing (a dancer joked: Rudy liked our girls, but he liked the boys more). He even invited a male dancer of NBC (with his partner, Guo Peihui, now lives in HK) to Paris Opera to dance his Don Q.<BR>I am not sure if Ta Mila will come back or not. Zhang Jian had been with Houston Ballet last season for a while, and had come back before the company's Denmark tour. <P><BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Thu Dec 28, 2000 6:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

What also interests me is the possibility that new themes for ballets (story lines) that may emerge from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, folk tales into new ballets.<P>I am optimistically picturing a potential gold mine there to reinvigorate the ballet repertoire.

Author:  Xinxin [ Fri Dec 29, 2000 7:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Dear Grace<BR>I guess it must be Li Cun Xin (or Cun Xin Li). He was in Houston and joined the Australian Ballet later. He came to Beijing with his companies, both Houston and Australian. I think ballet fans in China prefer to see western stars than China trained ones. When Li Cun Xin came to Beijing with Houston Ballet, we enjoyed Carlos Acosta/ Anderson(? A black girl with very good technique) pair more then Li / Park (? Can not remember her name). But I think the Japanese like their own big stars very much. That's why they always vote Testuya Kuwakawa as the most favorite male dancer in the world.<BR>Happy New Year.

Author:  Xinxin [ Mon Jan 01, 2001 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in Asia 2000

Dear Grace,<BR>I enjoy reading your msg. I know my name is very hard for a foreigner to pronounce.<BR>Thank you for your funny story.

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