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NBC to once again present John Neumeier’s ‘The Little Mermaid’in Beijing
Published: Aug 03, 2022 04:29 PM
The picture presents the stage photo from previous dance drama <em>The Little Mermaid</em> by National Ballet of China (NBC). Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012. Photo: Courtesy of NBC

The picture presents the stage photo from previous dance drama The Little Mermaid by National Ballet of China. Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012. Photo: Courtesy of NBC


Starring National Ballet of China (NBC) principal dancer Wang Qimin, choreographer John Neumeier's classic dance drama The Little Mermaid is set to return to the stage at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater for a five-day run at the end of August. 

The ballet drama, created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, was Neumeier's own interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale. He created the ballet to celebrate the bicentenary of the author's birth.

Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet <em>The Little Mermaid</em> was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012, under the guidance of John Neumeier (front). Photo: Courtesy of NBC

Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet The Little Mermaid was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012, under the guidance of John Neumeier (front). Photo: Courtesy of NBC


The relationship between NBC and The Little Mermaid began in 2012, when the troupe performed the ballet at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012.

As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the play's debut in China, the upcoming performance holds great significance for NBC and Neumeier. 

The Little Mermaid tells the story of a mermaid who falls in love with Edvard, a human prince. She bargains with a sea witch to give her human legs so she can be with the prince, but the prince marries another woman, breaking the young mermaid's heart.

The sea witch tells the mermaid that she can return to the sea by killing the prince. Unable to bear this thought, the young girl throws herself into the sea and turns into foam.

Over the years, there have been numerous adaptations of the story, some of them giving the couple a happy ending. However, Neumeier said at a press conference in 2012 that he prefers keeping the original plot, including the sad ending.

According to Neumeier, the ballet version of the story is more than a simple fairy tale and more of a discussion about the complicated emotions of human beings.

The performance starts with a poet on a boat who remembers his good friend Edvard, the prince. The poet represents the author, Andersen. Inside Andersen's memories, the story of the prince and the young mermaid begins, and so does a contrast between two worlds: the simple, underwater life of the ocean and the flamboyant lifestyle of humans on the boat.

The NBC version doesn't strictly adhere to the original version that was first performed by the Royal Danish Ballet in 2005. The NBC version adapted the ballet to suit the dancers from the NBC with input from Neumeier, who joined rehearsals later on.

The photo shows the rehearsal of <em>The Little Mermaid</em> by National Ballet of China (NBC). Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012, under the guidance of John Neumeier (front). Photo: Courtesy of NBC

The photo shows the rehearsal of The Little Mermaid by National Ballet of China (NBC). Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012, under the guidance of John Neumeier (front). Photo: Courtesy of NBC


Neumeier also supervised the annual assessment performance of NBC in 2012 to find the right candidate to play the female lead.

"I had no specific image. I never intended to choose someone that I expected. I'm here just to look more, hoping to find one," he told media.

The first national performance in 2012 broke many records for NBC. It was its most expensive performance and also involved the longest rehearsals for the period 2009 to 2012.

The photo shows the rehearsal of <em>The Little Mermaid</em> by National Ballet of China (NBC). Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012, under the guidance of John Neumeier (front). Photo: Courtesy of NBC

The photo shows the rehearsal of The Little Mermaid by National Ballet of China (NBC). Created by the ballet director of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2005, the ballet was firstly performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September of 2012, under the guidance of John Neumeier (front). Photo: Courtesy of NBC


Over the past 10 years, many NBC ballerinas have featured in performances of The Little Mermaid, including Wang Qimin, Ma Xiaodong, Sun Ruichen, Wang Ye and Wang Jiyu. 

The profound philosophies contained in the master's work, plus the characters' emotions in the ballet helped improve these performers' abilities.

"The tranquility and serene artistic temperament and the dedicated and concentrated work attitude of the Chinese ballet dancers deeply impressed me. These performers have unique emotional texture and movements while dancing, and their passion in the venue has given me a completely different spiritual connotation of ballet. It is a new version of The Little Mermaid," he said at the 2012 conference. 

Born in the US in 1939, John Neumeier received his first dance training at home. Later in 1973, he became artistic director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet. Under his direction, the institute became one of the leading ballet companies in Germany and soon received international recognition.

Global Times