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  Chinese Way>Life

Children's ballet keeps youth on their toes

2014-05-26 10:38:07

(China Daily) By Chen Nan


Beijing-based dance critic Ou Jianping, who's also the China National Arts Academy's Dance Research Institute director, says: "Many famous ballet companies come to perform in China every year. But it's rare to see a children's ballet troupe. It offers us a good opportunity to see what ballet education is in Ukraine and how it has influenced children."

In 2004, Ou was invited to be one of the judges of the Youth International Ballet Competition in Kharkiv. The contestants impressed him.


"In China, children learn ballet with clear intentions, such as passing examinations or taking it as a profession. So they work hard to learn all the movements and techniques," Ou says.

"However, what Ukrainian's children have is more than simply movements but also the manner and attitude of ballet dancers. I hope Chinese children can learn the culture behind ballet, which is much more important than the superficial moves."

In 2009, with the help of Ou, the Ukrainian National Children's Ballet toured China for the first time to audience acclaim.

Ou's student Huang Xin saw the troupe perform Cinderella in 2012. She shares the philosophy that ballet education should nourish children's hearts rather than push them to reach particular goals.

After obtaining her PhD in dance education from the China National Arts Academy's Dance Research Institute, Huang went to the United States as an awarded researcher on dance in American higher education with the Asian Cultural Council.

During her year in the US, she noticed that besides strict ballet training for professionals, students take time off from school to attend demonstrations and performances by ballet companies, such as New York City Ballet.

Huang founded the Dance to Educate Institute in 2012. The ballet studio is hidden in a corner among high buildings inside downtown Beijing's Contemporary Moma complex.

She has witnessed an increase of parents who hope to instill a love of ballet in their children.

"In the beginning, we had no more than 20 children. But now we have nearly 200, including boys and girls, Chinese and international students, aged 3 to 11," Huang says.

"The need is rising. This mirrors Chinese parents' changing attitude toward art education."

She says it's a rare opportunity for children to enjoy intimate communication with Western dancers, who are around the same age, which is inspiring.

"You really have to introduce people to performing arts at an early age," she says.

"This will be the audience of our future. If you have a good experience at an early age, it will be with you for the rest of your life."

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