Joburg Ballet joins forces with major Chinese ballet company for new Swan Lake
Reciprocating Joburg Ballet’s visit to China for the Year of South Africa in China in 2014, 21 dancers from the Liaoning Ballet of China arrive in Johannesburg early in April to join forces with Joburg Ballet for the grandest production of Swan Lake yet seen in South Africa.
Swan Lake is presented by Joburg Ballet and the Liaoning Ballet of China, supported by SA’s Department of Arts and Culture, China’s Ministry of Culture and the Year of China in South Africa initiative.
The combination of Joburg Ballet, the Liaoning Ballet, guest stars from Cuba and the US as well as additional dancers appearing in this production brings together an impressive 80 dancers for Swan Lake.
The Liaoning Ballet of China, founded in 1980, is one of China’s major ballet companies, blending a strong classical technique and repertoire – including Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Spartacus – with ballets based on Chinese themes. The company tours extensively and destinations have included Europe, Australia, Japan, Cuba, Russia and Canada. Although only part of the Liaoning Ballet is coming to South Africa, the company has a roster of 64 dancers.
The 21 dancers from the Liaoning Ballet will appear alongside Joburg Ballet’s dancers in principal, soloist and corps de ballet roles, with two performances during the season (Sunday 19 April at 3pm and Saturday 25 April at 7.30pm) featuring principal dancers from the Liaoning Ballet in the leading roles of Odette-Odile and the Prince.
Commenting on the partnership with the Liaoning Ballet, Joburg Ballet CEO Dirk Badenhorst said the 21 dancers coming from China are symbolic of the 21 years of democracy being celebrated this year in South Africa. He added: “We are honoured to be partnering with the contingent of dancers from the Liaoning Ballet to mark the Year of China in South Africa. Our ties with the international ballet community, and in this case with the Liaoning Ballet, help us to achieve ever higher standards in our vision of presenting Joburg Ballet as a world class African ballet company.”
Dirk Badenhorst said that the concept of Ballet Diplomacy is central to SA’s arts and culture scenario in general and classical ballet in particular: “The art of dance acts as a tool to strengthen the ties and friendships between nations and cements lasting bilateral relations. Ballet diplomacy works towards defining dance as a universal language, breaking down boundaries, uniting cultures, languages and backgrounds and harnessing dance as a tool for transition and a vehicle for change and transformation.”
Artistic director of Joburg Ballet, Iain MacDonald, said the company looks forward to welcoming the dancers from the Liaoning Ballet, adding: “China is now producing superb classical dancers, among the best in the world, and the fact that dancers from China, Cuba, Brazil, the United States, South Africa and elsewhere will be sharing the stage in Swan Lake in testament to classical ballet’s global reach and international appeal.”
On a visit to Joburg Ballet in Johannesburg last week, China’s Minister of Culture, Mr Luo Shugang, told China Central Television: “Through ballet, China and South Africa can exchange this art and have corporate interaction. This way we can not only enhance the cultural relations between the two countries but also enhance our friendship, because in such mutual learning lies the strength that binds us culturally. In China we say that culture serves as a bridge that links two nations and that the arts can convey the goodwill feelings towards each other. Ballet is further strengthening our countries’ bilateral relations.”
In addition to the dancers from China, Joburg Ballet will also be welcoming prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés from Cuba and US ballet star Brooklyn Mack from the Washington Ballet to Johannesburg for Swan Lake.
Swan Lake will be on from 17 April to 3 May at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein.
Tickets are from R100 to R400. For bookings, click here