Ballet Revamped : Beijing Dance Theater Unites Literature and Ballet

The China Cultural Center welcomed one of China’s most prestigious modern ballet companies to celebrate the fusion between traditional Chinese literature and modern dance.

On the evening of September 5, the China Cultural Center was delighted to host a lecture, combined with performances by the Beijing Dance Theater, a Chinese modern ballet troupe. The show was part of their 10 year anniversary tour “Chinese Literature and Contemporary Ballet”. The show incorporated performances by the Beijing Dance Theater into the lecture: after each verbal explanation, dancers entered the stage to illustrate the words and bring the lecture to life.  This format proved to be informative as well as engaging.

As the company’s artistic director Ms. WANG Yuanyuan was unable to attend due to an injury, it was deputy chief Mr. WANG Yinan who took the floor. He opened the lecture by expressing his gratitude to the China Cultural Center as well as the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Belgium for the opportunity to perform in Brussels for the first time.

The lecture then continued to present the background of modern ballet, which is known for its emotional expression, forming a contrast with traditional ballet. However, Mr. WANG pointed out that “even though contemporary ballet already has a hundred years of history, it is still not well recognized in China.” He went on to explain the combination of classical literature and modern ballet as a way to complement each style and give a contemporary vision to both Chinese and European literary masterpieces. In the ballets inspired by either a play or a poem, each dancer becomes a certain element of the play, resulting in a poetic expression of rhythm and grace. The performers on stage epitomized this perfectly.

Additionally, the audience were shown video clips from the Beijing Dance Theater’s most famous pieces during the lecture, such as “Beyond the Shadow” (inspired by Luo Fu), “A Leaf in the Storm” (inspired by Lin Yutang), and “Hamlet” (inspired by William Shakespeare).

The show then came to conclusion with its pinnacle, when the troupe performed their most famous dance “Farewell Shadow”, based on a great Chinese poem. All six dancers entered the stage to perform an aerial and refined ballet, letting their bodies express all the emotions gathered in this masterpiece. The audience was enthralled, confirming once more the ever-growing interest of the European public for Chinese art and culture.