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A number of Chinese dancers are starring in prominent roles in performances by foreign troupes at this year’s China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF).
Tan Yuanyuan is arguably one of the most recognized Chinese ballerinas who has enjoyed enduring popularity in the international scene. She will take on the title role in Giselle by the San Francisco Ballet. The dance company will be performing at Shanghai Culture Square on Oct 30.
Tan, who hails from Shanghai, shot to fame when she won a series of awards at international ballet competitions when she was a teenager. She later caught the eye of San Francisco Ballet when she was on tour in the city with Shanghai Ballet in 1995 and the American dance company promptly recruited her. Tan was promoted to principal dancer just three years later at the age of 21, and she is till today the only Chinese dancer to hold that position in a top ballet company in the United States.
A few years ago, Tan said that she would consider retiring by the age of 35 but the 38-yearold still looks to be going strong, presenting between 80 and 90 shows every year. She recently said on Oct 21, before her performance at the National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing, that she is still living “in a dream” with regard to her illustrious career.
Another Chinese dancer to grace the stage at CSIAF is Guo Chengwu, a principal at Australian Ballet. On Oct 24, he danced as the prince in the company’s production of Cinderella, and later took on the role of the leading star in the company’s gala performance on Oct 25.
Guo had studied in the school attached to Beijing Dance Academy when he was 10 years old. He later went to Australia when he was 17 and joined the Australian Ballet the following year. He attributed his success to having undergone the different training regimes in China and Australia, saying that the strict selection process and training program in China helped develop him into a solid dancer, while the training in Australia, which was less intense, enabled him to understand and enjoy ballet better.
Other Chinese performers to look out for are Peiju Chien-Pott (principal) and Xin Ying (soloist) from Martha Graham Dance Company, the oldest American dance troupe which was established in 1926. The company had two shows from Oct 28 to 29 at Shanghai Grand Theatre, saluting three great artists of the 20th century: Pablo Picasso ( Deep Song, Chronicle), Igor Stravinsky ( The Rite of Spring) and Graham herself ( Lamentation Variations).
Catch Guo Chengwu in action with Australian Ballet at this year's China Shanghai International Arts Festival.