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A season to dance

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-04 07:58
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The National Ballet of China will entertain audiences with a variety of shows at the fifth China International Ballet Season in Beijing. Highlights include classic pieces Don Quixote (pictured) and La Sylphide.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for many sectors, including the dance community. Canceled shows and venue closures have left artists without an audience.

Before the pandemic, the National Ballet of China used to organize training sessions for its dancers with international ballet masters who visited the country to present workshops and do rehearsals of productions with them, according to Feng Ying, president of the dance company.

"We are coping with the new normal-keeping in touch with intentional ballet masters online," says Feng. "It's important for us to keep the communication going despite the challenges brought by the pandemic."

Feng, a former ballerina, recently announced that the fifth China International Ballet Season, a series of shows, will kick off on Nov 12 and run through Dec 26 at Tianqiao Theater in Beijing.

Though the theater just announced that the opening gala was canceled following a spike in reported COVID-19 cases, the schedule for other performances and events mostly remains unchanged.

"Dancers of the company have got regular online training from international ballet masters," says Feng.

One of the ballet pieces to be staged during the festival is the classic three-act ballet, Jewels, by choreographer George Balanchine.

In 2019, the National Ballet of China staged the ballet piece to celebrate the company's 60th anniversary.

Premiered in New York in 1967, Jewels was inspired by the artistry of jewelry designer Claude Arpels. With three sections-Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds, the ballet portrays the essence of each jewel accompanied by music from three different composers.

Diana White, former soloist with the New York City Ballet, was in Beijing in 2019 to work with the dancers of the National Ballet of China on the last section of the work, Diamonds. Since the pandemic, White has held online rehearsals with the Chinese dancers.

Another ballet master who helped the Chinese dancers via online classes is Reid Anderson, artistic director of the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany.

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