Meet the Stars of Shanghai Ballet’s “Grand Swan Lake”

Featuring 80 dancers (including 48 swans!), live music by the New York City Ballet Orchestra, and choreography by Derek Deane, China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) is bringing Shanghai Ballet’s critically acclaimed production of Grand Swan Lake to the David H. Koch Theater. Principal dancers Qi Bingxue and Wu Husheng are playing Princess Odette and Prince Siegfried respectively. They shared some of their insights about the production and bringing this beloved classic to the stage.

Wu Husheng

What excites you the most about being in Swan Lake?

I think it has to be our Acts 2 & 4, to see the Swan Ocean appear on stage is quite overwhelming.

 How do you reinvent a ballet that is so well known? Do you consciously think I need to stand out from other dancers who have played this part?

Swan Lake is a very classical and world-known ballet. The story in each of the existing versions is very similar. The majority of the audiences already know the story by heart, and that’s why we have to be even more responsible to pay enough attention to all the details, not only the technique, but also the acting part, to make sure all the messages from the character are clearly delivered. And that’s also how the choreographer has been training us all the time.

You’ve played royals in several ballets, has that affected the way you move in the world in terms of your posture?

I don’t really think so, on stage, I am performing, it’s what I do. In real life, I am who I am.

You move seamlessly between Western dance and Chinese dance. How do you train your body for that?

The way Shanghai Ballet trains us is very international. So by the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it’s Western or Eastern dance, we can adapt and master the dance quite well.

Qi Bingxue

What excites you the most about being in Swan Lake?

Act 3, after the Black Swan succeeds in cheating the Prince.

How do you reinvent a ballet that is so well known?

First of all, is to understand well enough this Swan character, second is working on the technique.

For that matter, who are some of your favorite performances of Swan Lake?

My favorite is our version I must say.

You move seamlessly between Western dance and Chinese dance. How do you train your body for that?

Shanghai Ballet is a very international company in terms of training. So all the dancers in the company are very adaptable in terms of different type of ballet.

What is your favorite thing about playing opposite Husheng?

Over the years of partnering with an amazing dancer such as Wu Husheng, I have learnt so much, about self-discipline, his professionalism as a dancer, and the way he interacts with the audiences while remaining excellent in his performance.

You weren’t exposed to ballet growing up until you received a tutu for your birthday. Before then, what art did you consume?

I have always dreamt about being an actress, performing, dancing, drama or films. And thankfully now I did find my home on stage.

 What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not dancing?

Dancing is everything to me.

What’s your favorite thing about dancing in NYC?

Its going to be my very first time visiting and dancing in NYC, it’s such an honor and pleasure.

What is one of your favorite performances you’ve given?

Lately, other than Swan Lake, my favorite is dancing Marguerite in The Lady of the Camellias, choreographed also by Derek Deane.

For tickets and more information on Shanghai Ballet: Grand Swan Lake visit: https://davidhkochtheater.com/Season-Tickets/19-20-Season/China-Arts-and-Entertainment-Group-Presents-Shangh

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