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Harlequin obtains rare interview with Madam Zhao Ruheng

Doyen of ballet in China and former artistic director of the National Ballet of China, Madam Zhao recently talked to Harlequin about Morning Star Ballet where she is artistic consultant and of the events that have brought her to this stage in her career.

The full interview with Madam Zhao can be viewed on Harlequin’s video channel where she describes how at the age of eleven she was trained in the Russian tradition of ballet. Following her graduation she added “some British systematic training.” During her career she has witnessed tremendous change in dance in China, particularly in recent times influences from western ballet. She points out that ballet is still a relatively recent dance form in the country, dating back just 60 years since establishment of the Academy. The different western ballet influences were eagerly added to the “very good Russian technique” by herself and her contemporaries, providing the inspiration for greater creativity, which has proved attractive to Chinese audiences. 

Madam Zhao reflects on a tough regime of daily rehearsal without leaving the studio contrasting to the happiest moments when receiving audience applause at the curtain call. Offering advice to young dancers she reminds them “ballet is very scientific and very healthy,” but sounds a note of caution, “not to get hurt when you dance.” Citing her own experience of dancing on cold hard floors in winter and the subsequent injuries to legs and feet, she advises youngsters to study hard but avoid injury.

The interview turned naturally to the topic of dance floors. Madam Zhao’s concern at injuries caused by dancing on a poor floor prompted a recommendation for “a sprung floor with good vinyl floor that will let dancers perform better on stage because they don’t need to worry.” When the Morning Star Arts Centre was built, “the first thing we thought about when we built the studios was that we need good floors.” “The floor is very important to us”, she continued. “ Our relationship with Harlequin dates back many years to the time I was the artistic director of the National Ballet of China.” So it was no surprise that Harlequin floors were chosen for Morning Star too – a decision based on Harlequin’s “quality, reputation and service.”

Today's generation of ballet students will enjoy the same quality of dance floors as many western counterparts, far removed from the hard cold floors of Madam Zhao's early years in dance.

4th June 2015

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