The National Ballet of China: Swan Lake

Dates and Venue 27 & 28 February, 1 & 2 March 2013, 8pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer Michael Pink

The NBC presentation of Swan Lake was the ballet event of the year and much anticipated by the sold out audience in attendance.

Emily Molnar, artistic director of Ballet BC, who had a hand in the selection of the program and bringing the company to Vancouver, gave a graceful introduction to the evening performance.

The National Ballet of China is an illustrious company that was founded in 1959 and currently led by artistic director Feng Ying. Choreography for Swan Lake was superbly handled by the noted Natalia Makarova who was a ballerina with the Kirov Ballet before causing an international stir by defecting to the UK in 1970. Makarova is a legendary figure in the dance world having performed and choreographed around the world to great distinction.

The performance, set to the uplifting and brilliant music of Tchaikovsky, enthralled the audience from the moment the dancers set foot on stage. The star role of Odette was performed by Prima Ballerina Wang Qimin who is a dazzling and elegant dancer. Wang joined NBC in 1999 and won a gold medal at the 9th Moscow International Ballet Competition in 2001.

Principal Dancer Li Jun performed admirably in the role of Prince Siegfried. Li entered the NBC in 1999 and won a silver medal at the 7th USA International Ballet Dance Competition in 2002.

The opening piece featured 6 male dancers with stylish red coats and red stockings paired with 6 female dancers wearing colorful orange dresses. The symmetry and coordination of the dancing was beautiful.
Another high artistic moment featured the lead dancers sided by two rows of twelve ballerinas wearing white shimmering tutus. The finale was a grand moment with the lead dancers standing on a mount at the back of the stage with a glowing deep orange sun as the backdrop. It was pure romance and theatre at its best.

Not only is the National Ballet of China dancing superb and elevated to a high level, but the costuming by Galina Solovyeva and set design by Peter Farmer also conforms to a sublime level. The set design was rich and emotive. The costumes, particularly the white tutus and white sequin dress worn by Odette, were beautifully and finely tailored.

The globalization of dance is a wonderful experience and to enjoy the coveted National Ballet of China is a singular dance experience that audiences in attendance will long cherish.

© 2013 Michael Pink