Shanghai Ballet returns to Amsterdam with new take on 'Swan Lake'

Six years after it was last performed in Amsterdam, "Swan Lake," which was created more than a century ago and is one of the best-known ballets in the world, has made its eagerly awaited return with the Shanghai Ballet that features a new look.


The dance troupe is once again enchanting audiences with their performance of "The Greatest Swan Lake in the World," as part of a 45-day tour that kicked off in Amsterdam. It's the Shanghai Ballet's fourth European tour with this acclaimed show, which premiered in 2015 in Shanghai under the artistic direction of choreographer Derek Deane.

This time at the Royal Theater Carré in Amsterdam, the performance had a unique twist. There were 48 swans fluttering across the stage, whereas traditional performances only had 20 or so. Bringing to life the work of English choreographer Derek Deane, the dancers seek to fully embody the graceful aquatic birds.

"Acting is our first priority. We are actors and actresses telling a story through our movements and the language that is ballet," said dancer Qi Bingxue, who takes the lead role in the performance.

A stage photo of
A stage photo of "The Greatest Swan Lake in the World" by the Shanghai Ballet in Amsterdam. /CGTN

A stage photo of "The Greatest Swan Lake in the World" by the Shanghai Ballet in Amsterdam. /CGTN

Xin Lili is the artistic director of the institution. She said her goal is to bring the precision and magic of Chinese ballet to the international stage. "During the show, we want to present the audience with our unique artistic style, and show the excellence of each department of the Shanghai Ballet. An exquisite elegance that is like Chinese porcelain," she added.

This form of excellence is only achieved through the dedication of dancers like 37-year-old Wu Husheng. His experience and charisma have earned him the role of Prince Siegfried. As a member of the Shanghai Ballet since the age of 17, he gives over 60 performances a year, drawing on both a classical repertoire and original Chinese productions. 

"The Chinese dance productions, originally created by Chinese artists, are mostly inspired by China's cultural heritage, such as traditional performing arts, as well as popular culture. We try to infuse Chinese cultural elements into the ballets," Wu said.

As with every show since their grand debut in Amsterdam, the Shanghai Ballet has been witnessing hot ticket sales. The "swans" will give their final performance in Amsterdam on September 17. The troupe also promised to return and tour other parts of Europe with more spectacular productions as soon as possible.

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