A week has gone by since our friends from Shanghai Ballet arrived in town. After riding a bus for over four hours from Overland Park, KS where they had been performing the night before, they looked amazingly fresh when I peeked at them in company class. One thing that they truly where was hungry. Per their request, we provided them an authentic Chinese dinner and needless to say, little to nothing was left once they got through with it. And that seemed to be the theme for the 2 days and 3 performances they gave.
Extremely well trained, slender, disciplined and focused dancers embarked on the three performances of “The Butterfly Lovers.” This sumptuous production of a well known Chinese story was brought to life through inventive and creative choreography in very simple and direct terms that endeared the audiences who remained attentive throughout the performance and exploded into warm and thunderous applause when the last step was delivered. Watching them glide through the steps with complete assurance gave me a great appreciation for what Xin Lili, the Artistic Director of the Shanghai Ballet, has achieved and developed within the institution. Their path seems to be the right one for such a company and their future looks bright.
No sooner than when the third show came to an end that a final reception was held in their honor and food was gobbled one more time. After smiles and new friends made, the dancers had to file onto the bus to catch a few hours of sleep before heading, at 7 AM the next morning, to Memphis, Tennessee for a 3 o’clock show. Oh to be young again!
For me it was a special three days as I renewed friendships with individuals that are now guiding the dancers, like Xin Lili and Ming, who I had worked with as dancers as far back as 1986. Our smiles of recognition showed the loving nature that that experience was. Our miming of conversation made us all laugh. Photos were taken and soon Facebook was carrying them around the globe and beautiful messages from other dancers involved in those days of ‘86 starting sending comments. It was a precious and dear time and we said good bye hoping that the next time we saw each other would not be 27 years later.
Safe journeys Shanghai Ballet