The National Ballet of China
performs at the Edinburgh Festival.
"It still feels like we're beginning," says Madame Zhao Ruheng, a small, softly spoken woman who has been a member of the NBC since its formation. We meet far away in the brand-new National Centre for the Performing Arts in central Beijing, an astonishing piece of architecture that looks like a giant egg floating on water. It's taken many days of negotiations to get an audience with this formidable woman, who started out as a principal dancer in the NBC, danced on pointe in fields of frozen mud during the Cultural Revolution, invited the likes of Nureyev and Fonteyn as company guests, and became artistic director in 1994. She is sweetly maternal - not the expected diva - fussing over me, buying me yoghurt and green tea, and telling her extraordinary story in a mixture of English and (translated) Mandarin with warmth and honesty. Even in slacks and a sweater, her hair short, she looks like a dancer.....