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Shape shifters

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-14 07:54
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Tianjin Ballet's Sun Fuze dances at the Beijing International Ballet Invitational for Dance Schools, a contest for both students and young professionals. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The closing gala of the Beijing Dance Academy's ballet competition featured guest performers from some of the world's leading ballet companies, Cheng Yuezhu reports. 

As ballet dancers breeze across the stage and fling their lithe figures into a tour en l'air, the audience cheers at each entrechat, allegro and pirouette, awed by their ultimate demonstration of elegance, strength and control.

This was the scene at the theater of the Beijing Dance Academy on Oct 23, where the awards ceremony and closing gala performance took place for the 2018 Beijing International Ballet Invitational for Dance Schools.

The gala featured a series of classic and contemporary ballet excerpts from the award winners and guest performers from world-leading ballet companies, including the Finnish National Ballet, Boston Ballet and Hamburg Ballet.

The soloist ballerina from the Hamburg Ballet, Lin Xue, is a graduate from the Affiliated Secondary School of Beijing Dance Academy and a former winner of the silver medal of the junior group in the 2008 International Ballet Invitational. Arriving in Germany to further her studies in 2009, she has been part of the Hamburg Ballet since 2011.

"Dancers who participated in our competition and graduates from our school are now not only performing in the National Ballet of China, but on the global stage in cities as diverse as Hamburg, New York and Helsinki. It shows that the teaching standards of Chinese ballet are recognized around the world," says Zou Zhirui, dean of the ballet department at the Beijing Dance Academy.

Zou is one of nine judges taking part in the competition. The jury is composed of renowned dance performers and educators from China, Denmark, Russia, France, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States, covering ballet styles from every corner of the world.

Chairman of the jury, Frank Anderson, is a former director of the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet. He first visited China in 1985 and then again in 1995, where he soon recognized China's ballet education system as a hidden treasure and he has paid close attention to its cause ever since.

"The jury here has around 300 years of cumulative experience. We will use our hearts, our brains and our experience to guide ourselves to find the best dancers," Anderson says. "We are looking for talent, potential, presentation, body, beauty, musicality, honesty, passion, heart, quality and technique. These words, put together, spell 'artistry'. They are just the tools for the dancers to attain artistry."

The competition has been held biennially since 2006. Entering its seventh year, the competition has attracted more than 800 young dancers from 70 institutions and dance companies from more than 50 countries and regions.

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