New dance cen­ter of­fers a global stage

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By ZHANGKUNin Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The new Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Dance Cen­ter will cel­e­brate its open­ing on Oct 1, adding one more land­mark to the city’s cul­tural map.

The open­ing sea­son fea­tures orig­i­nal pro­duc­tions of the Shang­hai Bal­let and the Shang­hai Song & Dance Troupe, outstanding dance com­pa­nies from other parts of China, and in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed dancers such as Tan Yuanyuan, the Shang­hai na­tive who is the prin­ci­pal dancer with the San Fran­cisco Bal­let, and groups like the Bat­sheva Dance Com­pany from Is­rael.

The cen­ter con­sists of four new con­struc­tions and six his­tor­i­cal build­ings, which will be the home of Shang­hai Bal­let, Shang­hai Song & Dance Troupe, the Dance Col­lege of Shang­hai Theater Academy, and the dance school at­tached to it.

The core of the cen­ter is a new theater with 1,080 seats. The open­ing per­for­mance, Ham­let by Shang­hai Bal­let, will be pre­sented here.

There is also a smaller per­form­ing hall, as well as a to­tal of 48 rehearsal rooms in the com­plex.

Equipped with the lat­est in cush­ioned floors, the rehearsal rooms and stages will pro­vide max­i­mum pro­tec­tion for the “knees, backs and necks of dancers”, says Xin Lili, di­rec­tor of Shang­hai Bal­let.

The new fa­cil­i­ties will help dancers sig­nif­i­cantly ex­tend their ca­reers, she says. “In many coun­tries, bal­let com­pa­nies of­ten sign con­tracts with their dancers un­til the age of 42, while in China, dancers used to re­tire in their 30s due to fre­quent in­juries.”

Chen Fei­hua, di­rec­tor of Shang­hai Song & Dance Troupe, de­scribes the new fa­cil­ity as “a dream come true” and “a land­mark for danc­ing art sec­ond to none, even in­ter­na­tion­ally”.

This fa­cil­ity will draw top­notch in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tions, he says.

Xin says that the new­fa­cil­i­ties will en­able her com­pany to have more in­ter­ac­tion with over­seas coun­ter­parts; quite a few bal­let com­pa­nies have ex­pressed in­ter­est in ex­changes with Shang­hai Bal­let.

“We will also have guest dancers, chore­og­ra­phers and dance teach­ers from abroad,” Xin says.

Chen says brand-new apart­ments for dancers have also helped to lure tal­ent from other parts of China.

Zhu Guang, a veteran jour­nal­ist and cul­ture critic based in Shang­hai, says the launch of a new theater of more than 1,000 seats means one more cul­tural land­mark in Shang­hai, but more im­por­tantly, in­di­cates in­no­va­tion and new im­pe­tus for the cul­tural de­vel­op­ment of the city.

The cen­ter sits in the Hongqiao res­i­den­tial area in the west­ern side of the city. For decades, Hongqiao has been a res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity for ex­pats and wealthy Chi­nese. The area has plenty of fine din­ers and shop­ping cen­ters. Yet there was no ma­jor cul­tural fa­cil­ity.

“The lack of a sig­na­ture cul­tural fa­cil­ity has­made­the area less per­fect. To­gether with a new art space, Liu Haisu Art Mu­seum next door, the new dance theater has filled a cul­tural gap,” she says.

Both the new mu­seum and the dance cen­ter are part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (201115) for cul­tural es­tab­lish­ments in Shang­hai, and con­struc­tion be­gan in 2012.

The cen­ter cov­ers 39,100 square me­ters.

The new cen­ter is where the Shang­hai Dance School used to be. Both Chen andXin stud­ied there in the 1970s.

“It was a quiet sub­urb at that time. The last bus left at 8:30 pm,” Xin re­calls. “Now the metro sta­tion is right at our gate.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Dance Cen­ter will be­come a new cul­tural icon when it opens in Oc­to­ber. A theater (right) with more than 1,000 seats is the core of the cen­ter.

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