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Culture\Music and Theater

Suzhou ballet troupe takes to Europe

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-03 07:30

Suzhou ballet troupe takes to Europe

Li Ying performed as Juliet in 1992 with her husband, Pan Jiabin, as Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, produced by the National Ballet of China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Romeo and Juliet, which premiered in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in May 2010, accompanied by the Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra, was the company's first original full-length ballet work. The piece has been staged about 20 times since then, including at a performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing in 2012.

"My goal of launching the Suzhou Ballet Theater was to create original Chinese ballet works, not just telling Chinese stories but also interpreting Western classics with a Chinese angle," says Li. "Romeo and Juliet is a bold attempt for us."

Ballerina Su Yulin, who graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy in 2008 and joined the company in 2007, has been dancing as Juliet in the production since the piece was first performed.

"They were a celebrity couple as ballet dancers and I joined the company from the very beginning because of their reputation, hoping to grow with it," says Su, who will continue to dance in the role in the European tour. "Juliet was my first lead role and I am still playing her now, which means so much to me."

Su also danced in other lead roles in the company's other productions, such as Cinderella and the company's latest production, Tang Yin, which premiered in August. The ballet is about Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scholar and calligrapher Tang Bohu, also known as Tang Yin.

Li and Pan have received many international awards, including first prizes at the 12th Varna International Ballet Competition in 1986 and at the 5th Osaka International Ballet Competition in 1987.

Over the past 10 years, the couple have created seven original ballet works, including Coppelia, Carmen and The Nutcracker. In the first year, they choreographed three short works for the new company: Double Happiness, Chopin's Poem, and Dancing on Rock, a work showcasing a variety of ballet styles mixed with Chinese elements.

Li once performed as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, a ballet produced by the National Ballet of China in 1992 with her husband, Pan, as Romeo. During the curtain calls, they kissed onstage, which was caught on camera by their colleagues.

"I used to enjoy the applause from the audience as a dancer. Now, I enjoy the applause in a different way as a choreographer," says Li.

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