Chinese Folk Ballet
If only one piece needs to be mentioned when talking about Chinese folk ballet, then it will surely be 'The Red Detachment of Women'. These pictures document some real-life stories about this piece's beginnings°™how the dancers once lived for months in military camps to learn how to practice swords in order to portray the soldiers vividly on stage.
'The Red Detachment of Women' was the first and most successful large-scale Chinese ballet, with both the theme and content reflecting a very unique Chinese style.
Adapted from a movie with the same name, 'The Red Detachment of Women' tells a story about an impoverished girl, Wu Qionghua, who escaped from the tyranny of an oppressive landlord, joined the Red Army, and later grew up to be a distinguished revolutionary solider.
Although the storyline of this ballet seems a little bit out-of-date today, it still possesses its original charm. The piece is a model example of the successful combination of western ballet technique with Chinese folk dancing. The two styles are melded seamlessly within one piece, and it never fails to impress the audience with a natural flow of body language supported by intense emotions. 'The Red Detachment of Women' was a prelude to the exertions of Chinese ballet artists trying to establish a Chinese identity using an essentially foreign art form.
For four decades, 'The Red Detachment of Women' has been staged thousands of times and now still draws enthusiastic audiences to the theatre. A permanent part of the National Ballet of China's repertoire, this performance is now called the 'Red Classic'. The Poly theatre's March show was the most recent performance, and it was another big success. Maybe for some of the first-timers who attended, it was a completely new experience. But for most of the Chinese in the audience, it was just another re-view of the classic, and a chance to linger in memory lane recalling times in younger days when they had watched the same piece.
Chinese Ballet Education
The grandeur and glory of dancers on stage is backed by painstaking exercises at the bar, day in and day out, and year after year. Ballet is the kind of art that requires extremely tough training. It is no wonder that some people call it a cruel art.
The Beijing Dance Academy was former known as The Beijing Dance School. It was founded in 1954. One of the academy's major programs, the ballet department was established with direct help from Russian experts when the newly-founded People's Republic of China started its dance education. The department has two programs: the ballet performance program and the ballet education program. Because of the long-term input a ballet career requires, choosing ballet as one's major often means a life-long commitment. What draws these boys and girls into the ballet classrooms? What dreams do they cherish? And moreover, what are their plans for developing their careers after graduation?