Chinese acrobatics troupe turns ‘Swan Lake’ on its head – Sheila Melvin
‘Swan Lake” is one of the best-loved of all ballets, especially in China, where it was the first full-length ballet performed by Chinese dancers after the founding of the People’s Republic. The Tchaikovsky classic is a standard in the Central Ballet of China’s repertory and is also frequently performed by cash-strapped ballet companies from the former Soviet Union.
Acrobatics, on the other hand, is the ugly duckling of China’s performing arts, ignored and disdained by city dwellers who consider it both pass√© and d√©class√©. Attendance at acrobatics performances has been declining for years, and nowadays its audiences are almost exclusively foreign tourists and overseas Chinese.
So producing an acrobatic version of “Swan Lake” would seem to be a risky undertaking, destined to be criticized by high culture purists and ignored by audiences who like their “Swan Lake” just fine without the trapeze.