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Chinese & American swans to open cultural feast

The 15th annual “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival will have its grand opening on April 23. The classic ballet “Swan Lake” has been chosen to begin the month-long cultural and artistic feast, featuring the best dancers from China and the US.

“Swan Lake” is the most performed and watched ballet all over the world. The piece was premiered in China in 1958 by the predecessor of the National Ballet of China. It was the beginning of Western ballet taking root in the country.

This time round, dancers from the US will be the guests of honor of the festival, and will be headlining the opening ceremony with “Swan Lake”, along with the National Ballet of China.

Isabella Boylston, a principal with the American Ballet Theater, and Paolo Arrais, from the Boston Ballet, were invited to dance the romantic “Pas de Deux” with the National Ballet of China’s own Ma Xiaodong and Wang Ye.

Feng Ying, the artistic director of the collaboration, believes the audience has a lot to look forward to.

“American ballet is very phenomenal because of the father of American ballet, George Balanchine, and his musicality. The National Ballet of China has performed four versions of ‘Swan Lake’, and we think the Natalia Makarova version of Odette and Odile is most glamorous one,” said Feng.

“Because, as the best ballerina of her generation, she has perfectly combined her Russian roots with English school’s classicism and American flow. The National Ballet of China has planted the eastern aesthetics into the piece and has won international acclaims. We are proud to collaborate with the two top dancers, and it is a great cultural exchange.”

The opening ceremony will be divided into two night shows at the National Center for the Performing Arts. On April 23, Isabella Boylston and Ma Xiaodong will lead the dance. And it is Paolo Arrais and Wang Ye’s turn on April 24.