The story appears on

Page C3

November 27, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Classic that never swans off stage

WU Yuhai has already bought two tickets for the "Swan Lake" ballet performance on Christmas Day at the Shanghai Grand Theater. And it will be the fifth show the 72-year-old and his wife attend this year at the venue.

"'Swan Lake' is one of my favorites and I haven't missed a single version this season," says Wu, a retired music teacher who loves concerts and dance.

The upcoming version on Christmas Day will be presented by Chelyabinsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater of MI Glinka.

It is the fourth version of "Swan Lake" staged in Shanghai during this performing season which began in August, and another is waiting in the wings for January.

The classical Russian ballet composed by Tchaikovsky during 1875 and 1876 about the story of Odette-Odile, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse, has been presented in many different versions by numerous corps all over the world, and it's one of the most familiar and successful ballet works to Chinese audiences.

In August, Shanghai Ballet performed "Swan Lake" to launch the new performance season at Shanghai Grand Theater and celebrate the theater's 11th anniversary.

In late September, America's oldest professional ballet company San Francisco Ballet and principal ballerina, Shanghai native Tan Yuanyuan, visited China with Helgi Tomasson's full-length production of "Swan Lake."

The tour marked the first visit by San Francisco Ballet to Asia, including prestigious engagements in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou, Jiangsu Province for a total of eight performances.

This version was choreographed by Tomasson, the company's artistic director and principal choreographer, which premiered in 1988 at War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. It's the first American production of "Swan Lake."

Tan triumphs

The performance received high praise from New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff, who called it "the most beautiful 'Swan Lake' in history."

Two of the performances in Shanghai were led by Shanghai-born principal ballerina Tan, who is now one of the world's top dancers.

Second "Swan Lake" arriving in Shanghai was the St Petersburg Ballet Theater version, who performed to celebrate China's National Day in October.

The company was founded in 1994 by Russian entrepreneur Konstantin Tachkin, for the purpose of delivering classical Russian ballet to audiences worldwide.

The role of Odette-Odile in that performance was played by Irina Kolesnikova, the prima ballerina of the company.

"To Shanghai audiences, 'Swan Lake' is almost the synonym for ballet dance," says Qian Shijin, director of Shanghai Grand Theater.

The theater's opening performance 11 years ago was "Swan Lake" by the National Ballet from Beijing. Since then, all the theater's anniversaries have been celebrated with a performance of the popular ballet.

In terms of management, "Swan Lake" is a guaranteed box-office success compared to other ballets.

"The audience in Shanghai couldn't be more familiar with this classic ballet," adds Qian.

Others waiting for the Christmas performance include 37-year-old bank worker Dong Liqing and her nine-year-old daughter Chen Lili, who has been studying ballet for several years.

"I hope my daughter becomes a successful ballet dancer. I think it's good for her to watch as many ballet shows as possible, to enjoy the atmosphere of the dance, and also to improve her own dancing skills," says Dong.

Dong is not familiar with professional ballet but says the most familiar dance is "Swan Lake."

"Every time I hear of any performance of 'Swan Lake' in Shanghai, I try to bring my daughter to watch, as this dance has been a classic for me since I was young," says Dong.

Other classic ballets such as "The Nutcracker" and "Cinderella" have also been presented in Shanghai.

Russian romance

St Petersburg Ballet Theater is also well-known for many successful performances of classical ballets such as "Sleeping Beauty," "Giselle" and "The Nutcracker," but this time "Swan Lake" was the natural choice for their debut show.

"The ballet itself is an ever-classic work full of attractions by Tchaikovsky," says Ha Muti, president of Shanghai Ballet.

"Swan Lake" was the first Western classic ballet introduced to Chinese audiences and even during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) when most entertainment was forbidden, Russian companies still performed it in China.

Shanghai Ballet performed a version of "Swan Lake" supervised by Derek Deane, former artistic director of the English National Ballet in 2000, giving more than 50 shows during a two-year tour of China.

The ballet's final performances in Shanghai this season will be on January 13 and 16, with a version presented by the National Academic Bolshoi Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus.

In 1993, the State Opera House, the first in the history of Belarus, was opened in Minsk. Today the repertoire includes different epochs and styles. The ballet group includes 100 dancers and owes its home and international recognition to its artistic director Valentin Yelizariev.

Chelyabinsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater of MI Glinka

Date: December 25, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 150-800 yuan

Russian Imperial Ballet

Date: January 1-2, 7:15pm

Venue: Majestic Theater, 66 Jiangning Rd

Tickets: 100-680 yuan

Two Russian state ballet troupes

Date: January 13, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 180-1,080 yuan


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend