The Royal New Zealand Ballet brought its original production of “Giselle” on a three-week tour in China, including performances at Shanghai Oriental Art Center on April 12 to 13.
Principal dancer Qi Huan, who has been with the company for eight years, danced the role of Albrecht.
His career path is somewhat different because he spent time as a teacher.
He began studies in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, and later attended the Beijing Dance Academy. In 2000 he reached the finals of the New York International Ballet Competition.
After graduation, a knee injury kept him from joining a company. From 2003 to 2004 he taught at the academy.
“You study all those years to get into a company to dance, not just to teach,” he said in an interview with Shanghai Daily, “but it was good experience when the school asked me to stay. I knew what I should do when I dance in the future.”
As he recovered, academy instructor Ou Lu helped him get into the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Ou had been principal dancer there.
In 2005 Qi joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet, first performing the leading role in “Dracula,” a theatrical and voluptuous vampire, in a ballet by Michael Pink.
“We have our ups and downs, it’s the same for all professions,” Qi said. “As a professional dancer, I try to overcome it (negative feelings). You cannot let the audience sense that while watching you dance.”
He discussed differences between ballet in China and other countries.
New Zealand follows the British school, while China follows the Russian school, he said.
“When I first joined the company, I wasn’t quite used to it. There are also more new things abroad, new choreographers coming to create works in diverse styles.”
Chinese dancers need to work harder overseas because the audience is not familiar with them.
“In ballet, you don’t communicate with language, you show it with your dance, and they’ll like it,” Qi said.
Everyone at the company is friendly and hardworking. “I’m gaining stage experience and becoming a more mature dancer,” he said.