Perfection was what Zhang Quan and Zhao Li aimed for when they practiced for their performance for the annual Spring Festival TV Gala last year. Provided to China Daily
Wang recalls constantly checking his pockets for his passport to make sure he still had it during the 15-hour flight to Europe.
What awaited him was something he had never imagined: packed houses, enraptured audiences, media interviews and autograph requests.
"That's when I realized I had to practice a bit on my less-than-presentable handwriting," Wang says, abashedly.
"Everywhere we went, we were invited to perform at the most esteemed venues－the Kremlin in Moscow, Covent Garden in London. That says a lot about how they thought of us as artists."
Yes, artist－that is what Wu Zhengdan, 33, insisted on being called when she imagined herself as the proud "Swan of the Orient" in the namesake performance.
Pirouetting on the shoulder of her longtime stage partner and husband Wei Baohua, who is 10 years her senior, Wu captured the imagination of her audience and catapulted it to a new horizon, where acrobatics meets ballet.
"I was hit by the idea back in 1998, and I still remember vividly how I had struggled to stand on pointe after first slipping into a pair of ballet shoes," Wu says.
"By introducing the elegance and storytelling of ballet to acrobatics, we intended to cast the age-old art in a new, and probably more poetic, light."
Wu and her husband, one of only two couples in the troupe, worked hard on this.