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Russian ballet shapes China's embrace of dance(2)

2013-03-22 10:24 China Daily     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment

In 1959, the Experimental Ballet of the Beijing Dance School was founded, which was later renamed the National Ballet of China.

The first group of ballet majors from Beijing Dance School became the earliest dancers of the National Ballet of China. Among them was Zhao Ruheng, who later became president of the National Ballet of China.

Zhao said the Russian tutors, such as O.A. Yealina, the first Russian ballet expert in China, also gave training to Chinese teachers.

"In this sense, Russian experts were undoubtedly the founders of Chinese ballet," Zhao said.

At the age of 11, she began her career when the Beijing Dance Academy came to her hometown in the northern port city of Tianjin seeking young talent.

"I remember the first time I saw Russian teachers. I was so impressed by their beautiful outfits, the tutus and silk stockings," she said.

Zhao's career peaked in 1963, when she was named the principal dancer in Swan Lake.

"We received very professional and strict training," said Zhao, 69. Besides dance, students there also took courses in other subjects, including Chinese, mathematics and fine arts, which developed them into well-rounded and versatile people.

Ou Jianping, a dance expert at the China Arts Research Institute, said that while Russian ballet built the foundation for China's ballet development, today it's still widely enjoyed and influencing Chinese audiences and ballet schools.

Ou said that among all the foreign ballet troupes that perform in China every year, around 80 percent come from Russian-speaking countries.

"Though China's ballet school absorbed skills from other foreign countries later, Russian ballet is still the root of China's ballet," Ou said.

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