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Thursday, November 7, 2002 - 19:30

Ballet in China, Past and Present

Professor Xu Ding Zhong, Beijing Dance Academy

New Zealand Embassy

The earliest record of a ballet performance in China was in the late Qing Dynasty. Ms. Yu Rong Ling, the daughter of the Chinese Ambassador to Germany in the19th century, took ballet lessons while she was in Germany and France. Later Ms. Yu returned to China and gave China's first ever ballet performance in front of Empress Dowager Cixi.

At the turn of the century, ballet teachers from Russia started private studios in Shanghai and Harbin, although there were few students or performances then. It was not until 1952, when the Chinese government initiated large-scale ballet development with Russian experts, that this wonderful art form was introduced to the Chinese people. The debut of the "Fish Beauty" in 1959 marked the first ballet choreographed by Chinese artists. China has since produced many ballets such as "The Red Detachment of Women", "Raise the Red Lantern", etc.

In his talk to BIS Professor Xu Ding Zhong, of the Beijing Dance Academy, will speak about the history and development of ballet in China. Professor Xu was among the few selected to undertake ballet instruction from Russian masters in the 1950's when he was thirteen. Since then, ballet has become his life. From 1976 Professor Xu has been a full time ballet teacher both in China and abroad and many of his students have won prizes at international competitions. Professor Xu has also been elected to serve on the judging panel of several international ballet competitions including Switzerland and Japan.