LIFE / CULTURE
Chinese version of ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet to celebrate 20-year career of NBC music director Zhang Yi
Published: Sep 14, 2022 03:48 PM
The National Ballet of China(NBC) presents a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic <em>The Nutcracker</em> as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi from September 15 to 18, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of NBC

The National Ballet of China(NBC) presents a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic The Nutcracker as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi from September 15 to 18, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of NBC


The National Ballet of China(NBC) will present a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic The Nutcracker as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi.

Zhang has been working as the head of music at NBC for the past two decades and is currently the conductor of the symphony orchestra affiliated to the NBC.

The new performance is scheduled to be staged at the Beijing Tianqiao Theater in September 15-18.

The Chinese version of the world-famous ballet The Nutcracker,called Guonian (Lit.Celebrate the New Year), moves the story from its traditional setting of Christmas to the Chinese Spring Festival, a time for family reunions and firecracker celebrations. 

The National Ballet of China(NBC) presents a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic <em>The Nutcracker</em> as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi from September 15 to 18, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of NBC

The National Ballet of China(NBC) presents a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic The Nutcracker as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi from September 15 to 18, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of NBC

 "As the representative of a new generation of Chinese conductors, Zhang Yi brought Chinese ballet to a new level during his 20 years as the music director of our ballet group," commented Feng Ying, head of the NBC.

"His artistic expression and profound performing skills are so unique that he not only gained a group of fans but also recognition in this circle," she added. 

"I hope that he can step onto a broader path of music and orchestra for our ballet performances."

This is not the first time that the NBC has thrown a special commemorative performance for one of its members.

Under Feng, the ballet group in recent years has held commemorative performances for other outstanding artists who have contributed to the development of the NBC such as ballet leads Zhu Yan, Zhang Jian and Wang Qimin, as well as senior choreographer Fei Bo, in what has come to be known as its"20 Years" series.

A senior choreographer at the National Ballet of China whose prodigious talent and impressive works have made him a valuable contributor to the troupe, Fei held a performance of his choreographed dance routines at the Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in July as part of the "20 Years" series. 

"I'm so grateful and excited to stand here and be able to present my 20 years at the NBC with such a celebration. I could not have achieved what I have without the support of these excellent actors and technical teams at the NBC, as well as the senior artists who laid the foundation for generations to come," Fei told media in a post-performance interview.

The NBC is also the only ballet troupe in China that has its own orchestra, which has played an indispensable role for the NBC since its establishment more than 60 years ago.

As one of the most influential conductors in China, Zhang has completed impressive backgrounds music for the rapid developing Chinese ballet, and his important role in the symphony orchestra has made him a well-deserved "dark horse" in the domestic classic musicfield.

The performance for Zhang will not only act as a "congratulatory note" for his efforts in leading the Chinese ballet orchestra and his remarkable achievements over the past 20 years, but also a demonstration of the continuous development of ballet and orchestra in China.

Zhang first cooperated with NBC in 1996 when he was invited by the troupe to create a Chinese version of Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 

He also created the well-known ballet adaptation of the movie Raise the Red Lantern in 2001, right after he finished his studies in Germany and returned to China.

At the age of 30, he was nominated as the music director, the first in NBC history, in 2002.

Since then he has supervised a number of world-famous ballet performances such as Giselle and Don Quixote at the NBC.

Since the cooperation between the NBC and Zhang began with Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Zhang chose The Nutcracker, which Tchaikovsky scored, to present his career at NBC.

The Nutcracker is famous for its vivid fantasy story. Though the ballet is slightly different than the story upon which it was based, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffman, the main theme remains the same: A young German girl dreams of the Nutcracker Prince, who fights a fierce battle against the seven-headed Mouse King. 

"The 20 years I have been with the NBC has been the happiest time in my career and the most peaceful years of my life as well. However, my story with this place has not yet ended," Zhang told media. 

Global Times

The National Ballet of China(NBC) presents a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic <em>The Nutcracker</em> as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi from September 15 to 18, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of NBC

The National Ballet of China(NBC) presents a brandnew Chinese version of the dance classic The Nutcracker as a special stage performance to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi from September 15 to 18, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of NBC