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Husband and wife star on Queensland stage
By Li Anlan

In 2011, Hao Bin and Meng Ningning joined the Queensland Ballet together as soloists and were promoted to principals in a few months.

The couple, who married in China, used to dance for the National Ballet of China, the premier company in the country.

Hao started ballet in 1995 and graduated in 2002 from the Beijing Dance Academy. In 2007 he was invited by the Stuttgart Ballet to perform in a gala at John Cranko’s Dance Festival Celebration. He has toured with the national ballet to many countries and performed principal roles. In 2011 he was nominated Best Male Dancer of the Year in the Prix Benois de La Danse in Moscow.

Meng joined the national ballet in 1996. In 2002 she won the gold medal at the 4th Nagoya International Ballet and at the Modern Dance Competition in Japan. In 2010 she was invited by the Queensland Ballet as a guest artist in its international gala. She joined the company a year later.

In April, the couple performed in “Cinderella,” he danced the prince and she danced Cinderella.

Q: How did you become interested in dance?

Meng: Every little girl dreams of beautiful dresses and dance shoes, I was no different.

Hao: When I was young and watching TV, I really envied the dancers who performed on stage. It was beautiful.

Q: When did you decide on your career?

Meng: When I was about 10 years old, the Beijing Dance Academy went to my hometown to select students.

Hao: I was about 11 when I applied Beijing Dance Academy.

Q: What do you love about ballet?

Meng: Ballet has become an indispensable part in my life.

Hao: I like the elegance, grace and fluency.

Q: When did you meet each other?

Both (written statement): We met when we joined the National Ballet of China; we were partners in the rehearsal for “Swan Lake.”

Q: Why did you leave China for Australia?

Both: We worked many years at the company in China. Ballet is an art that originated in the West, so we decided to go out and enrich our experience. The Australian company offered us a contract.

Q: Was it hard to find a company to take both of you? Did you consider different companies?

Both: It’s not easy for a company to offer contracts to two principal dancers, every company has its unique style.

Q: How does dancing in Australia compare with dancing in China?

Both: There are some differences in style, but the pursuit of art is the same.

Q: What’s your year and a half in Queensland been like?

Both: We are very happy. We have danced many works and characters that we hadn’t danced in the past.

Q: Does the Queensland company focus on classic, modern or a combination? Which do you prefer?

Both: This year the performance is more classical, but we have one or two modern productions in the season. As dancers, we love good works, classical or contemporary.

Q: How do you like living in Australia?

Both: Living in China, we were close to family and friends and didn’t feel lonely. When we first arrived in Australia, there were many problems because of language but now we are doing better.

Q: What’s it like dancing together and being a couple?

Both: Sometimes we work together, sometimes we work with other dancers. But we think being a couple makes it more easier to anticipate each other’s moves.

Q: What is it like dancing “Cinderella” and being a couple off stage?

Both: We really enjoy this fairy tale and characters. Life and work are two different spaces, they don’t influence one another.

Q: What is the most important quality in a male/female dancer?

Hao: The most important quality is your own technique and skills as well as artistry.

Meng: Beautiful lines, artistic expression.

Q: What’s your dream part?

Meng: “The Lady of Camellias.”

Hao: Classically, I like “Giselle,” which we are rehearsing now.

Q: What are your long-term plans?

Meng: I love my profession and enjoy it. In the long run, if I cannot dance anymore, I would probably become an instructor.

Hao: I haven’t planned it. I enjoy every day on stage. Maybe in the future, I will try a new profession.

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