LIFE / CULTURE
Classic ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ wraps up in Beijing with oriental twist
Published: Sep 20, 2022 02:10 PM
The ballet adaption of a world-renowned classic German fairy tale is given an oriental twist by the National Ballet of China (NBC) in Beijing. The dance <em>Guonian</em> (New Year Celebration) is performed from September 15 to 18, 2022, at Beijing Tianqiao Theater. Photo: Courtesy of Wang Chang

The ballet adaption of a world-renowned classic German fairy tale is given an oriental twist by the National Ballet of China (NBC) in Beijing. The dance Guonian (New Year Celebration) is performed from September 15 to 18, 2022, at Beijing Tianqiao Theater. Photo: Courtesy of Wang Chang


The ballet adaption of a world-renowned classic German fairy tale is given an oriental twist by the National Ballet of China (NBC) in Beijing. The dance <em>Guonian</em> (New Year Celebration) is performed from September 15 to 18, 2022, at Beijing Tianqiao Theater. Photo: Courtesy of Wang Chang

The ballet adaption of a world-renowned classic German fairy tale is given an oriental twist by the National Ballet of China (NBC) in Beijing. The dance Guonian (New Year Celebration) is performed from September 15 to 18, 2022, at Beijing Tianqiao Theater. Photo: Courtesy of Wang Chang


The ballet adaption of a world-renowned classic German fairy tale was recently given an oriental twist by the National Ballet of China (NBC) in Beijing. With cheers from the audiences, the last of the four performances of the Chinese version of The Nutcracker ballet kicked off the autumn ballet season across China on Sunday.

The Beijing Tianqiao Theater had the atmosphere of Chinese New Year over the weekend as it hosted Guonian (New Year Celebration), a Chinese adaptation of the 1892 two-act ballet dance The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 

Though the adaptation includes changes such as different costumes and setting off firecrackers, a Chinese New Year tradition, the ballet stuck to the original storyline of the fairy tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffman: A young German girl dreams of the Nutcracker Prince, who fights a fierce battle against the seven-headed Mouse King. 

The Chinese version was first performed in 2010. In order to create an original Chinese New Year, the choreographers heavily incorporated the elements of the holiday, such as the Chinese zodiac, into the show.

Twelve years have passed since the show's debut and now it has been taken on by a younger group of performers. Over the past five years, this group has stepped on international stages in Russia, Nepal and Kazakhstan, where it has performed many classics such as Swan Lake, Cinderella, and the well-known Chinese ballet original Red Detachment of Women.

"The work tells a story of our own," Feng Ying, head of the NBC, told media after the first performance wrapped up on Thursday. 

"It expresses the best wishes of our people."

"The NBC had great success with the creation of Red Detachment of Women. After that we explored ways to express Western dance vocabulary and China's own traditions, to create a varied fusion that is unique to watch," she added.

In 2018, Guonian was performed at La Seine Musicale in Paris. The show was a breakout hit in Paris and finally finished after 11 performances in the city.

The weekend ballet performance was also special because it was meant to celebrate the 20-year career of conductor Zhang Yi, head of music at NBC and the conductor of the symphony orchestra affiliated to the NBC.

The symphony band playing in front of the stage wrapped up the whole performance in a welcoming package.

Conducted by Zhang, the symphony plays music with strong dramatic tension during the first act in which the Nutcracker Prince comes alive to fight. 

The second act of the dance was much richer and more varied depending on the situation and included a loud trumpet solo, "chanting" string instruments and a dreamy harp as well.

The young dancers from the performance are set to perform more classics, including Swan Lake in October in Beijing and Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province.

Another group from NBC will also launch a 45-day autumn season country tour that will include performances of Dunhuang, Red Detachment of Women, Century,  Don Quixote, and Onegin. 

Additionally, the NBC Symphony Orchestra will hold concerts at The National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Beijing Xishan National Forest Park, where they will bring music into nature.

Global Times