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Ballet company to have another tilt at old favorite

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-02 08:15
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A scene from the 2015 production of Don Quixote being performed by the troupe in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1985, the National Ballet of China premiered its production Don Quixote at Tianqiao Theater in Beijing.

It was choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev (1938-93), then artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet. He worked with dancers of the National Ballet of China on the piece under the invitation of Trinidad-born, Chinese dancer-choreographer Dai Ailian (1916-2006), the first president of the National Ballet of China. Since then, Don Quixote has become a classic piece for the company.

From Sept 9 to 12, the National Ballet of China will restage Don Quixote at Tianqiao Theater, featuring the company's young dancers, including Qiu Yunting, Ma Xiaodong and Wu Sicong.

"I can still recall the rehearsals for Don Quixote," says Feng Ying, president of the National Ballet of China. "Rudolf Nureyev showcased his passion for dancing, which was very inspiring for us."

Feng, a ballerina at that time, played the role of Kitri in the 1985 production. In the ballet, Kitri is in love with the town barber Basilio and she captures the attention of those around her, including Don Quixote, who mistakes her for his Dulcinea and pursues her with fervor.

"Don Quixote is one of the true signature pieces of Rudolf Nureyev. It takes audiences to a bright and enchanting Spain," says Feng. "For ballet dancers, it's a very challenging piece. It's definitely a test for our younger performers."

Considered as one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time, Nureyev was trained at the world-famous Kirov Theatre, now known as the Mariinsky Theatre. Later he worked with the Royal Ballet and was appointed as artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet in 1983, a position he held until 1989.

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