The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

UPDATED: March 19, 2012 NO. 12 MARCH 22, 2012
Pain Behind Glory
Always on their feet, ballerinas face a challenging lifestyle behind the stage curtains
By Deng Yaqing

FLAP WINGS: Ballerinas imitate the action of the swan during rehearsal at NBC in Beijing on March 9 (JIANG XIAOYING)

Most NBC ballerinas start their performing careers as teenagers. Retirement comes in their 30s, after their bodies and feet can no longer take the physical strain of practices and performances.

Despite prior knowledge of the hardships, many Chinese parents support their children's dreams of dance. Every year, young girls head to Beijing for better instruction, some as young as 8 or 9. After several rounds of examinations and contests, qualified recruits are selected from thousands of candidates. Then they begin a strict systematic education of ballet at a high school affiliated to the Beijing Dance Academy (BDA), the most honored dance college in China.

"I never regret dancing," Zhu said, "I feel so lucky that I became a member of the NBC and receive applause and acclaim in the spotlight."

Despite an honorable history and support from the government, the NBC now relies mostly on its own commercial performances. The government now offers 40 percent of the NBC's budget, while the troupe has to raise the rest on their own. The pressure to raise funds is a daily reminder for everyone at the NBC.

For this reason, the NBC arranges as many commercial performances as possible. The performances raise extra cash, but push the dancers to their limits.

In 2011, the NBC troupe performed more than 150 ballets in China and internationally.

"Sometimes we have to perform five or six ballets a week," said Zhu.

"Our dancers seldom get weekends off. They go to practice from sun up to sun down and then perform once the sun sets," said NBC President Feng Ying. "The amount of exercise of a ballet dancer in one performance is almost the same with that of a volleyball player in a match."

In today's fast-moving and tech-obsessed society, ballet is failing to attract large numbers of fans—those that do show up are usually older and few in number.

The brain drain of ballet dancers is another big challenge for the NBC to tackle. "Due to unsatisfactory income, many excellent ballet dancers who were trained by us have quit and chosen to serve in foreign ballet troupes," said Jiang Shan, Director of Operations and Planning of the NBC.

"Nowadays, a super star can earn much more by singing a song than the whole performance of a ballet troupe," said Jiang. "So we must continually improve our troupe to offer better conditions for our dancers."

RED BALLET: Dancers of the NBC perform the Red Detachment of Women, adapted from a Chinese revolutionary story, at Tianqiao Theater of Beijing on International Women's Day on March 8 (JIANG XIAOYING)

In spite of some challenges, the young generation of ballet dancers is working hard for improvement of the stage art by creating new dramas with innovative ideas and Chinese features. For instance, on March 8, the Red Detachment of Women performed by the NBC at Tianqiao Theater of Beijing was praised among middle school students. With quick and strong rhythms, the newly unveiled ballet Pink Floyd has won unexpected popularity among young audiences. 

Email us at: liuyunyun@bjreview.com

   Previous   1   2  

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Related Stories
-Ballet in China
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved