Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Roland Petit’s La Chauve Souris Opens in Beijing Next Month


Recommended Posts

The National Ballet of China is planning to bring Roland Petit’s La Chauve Souris to Beijing for the first time to Chinese audiences in September, 2014.

Petit`s long-time assistant Luigi Bonino and costume designer Luisa Spinatelli, as well as Bonino's assistant Gillian Whittingham, are working with NB of China to stage this production. The rehearsals started last month. In the rehearing room we can find all principles with the troupe, Zhu Yan, Zhang Jian, Wang Qimin, Li Jun, Cao Shuci, Ma Xiaodong, Yu Bo, plus the excellent young actor Sun Ruichen and etc.

We are also told that the internationally renowned dancer and Ballet Master Manual Legris has been invited to join this event to dance in the Premiere on September 11th, 2014.


References: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_473f97a00102uxey.html

Link to comment
The premiere performances of famous French choreographer Roland Petit's ballet La Chauve Souries will take place in a month at the Tianqiao Theatre in Beijing from September 11th till September 14th. The ballet is re-staged for The National Ballet of China by Petit`s long-time assistant Luigi Bonino and his assistant Gillian Whittingham.

As the premiere day is coming closer, then production has entered long period of intense rehearsals. The count-down begins for the first performance.

July 27, Ms. Gillian Whittingham arrived in NBC. She is supervising the re-staging of this ballet. According to the plan, she would complete dance rehearsals in scenes "Maxim restaurant", "twelve pairs masquerade", "waiter" and "cancan girls" and other works, in a week.

In addition, the lighting design and stage production supervisor Jean-Michel Désiré, from Ballet National de Marseille, would guide the setting up the stage and lighting, and complete the stage setting in Tianqiao theater from August 1st to 4th.

Luigi Bonino and other staff involved in this production have arrived later and started working together with NBC to assure the success of the premiere of this world’s well-known and charming ballet.




Link to comment

Talk to Luisa Spinatelli, the costume designer of La Chauve Souris

Q: Would you to like to tell us some interesting stories? How did you start to work with Roland Petit for costumes in La Chauve Souris?
A: We had worked together for many dancing productions. I started my costume design career for La Scala theater, involved in the design works for many opera, ballet and modern dances over many years. Ballet costumes require the best, the most appealing and refined design. By chance, Mr. Petit saw my design work at La Scala, and very interested in it, so we began our cooperation on several his ballets. When Mr. Petit came to me to ask me to design the costumes for La Chauve Souris, I was not hesitant for a second, that was an instant agreement in principle.
Ballet La Chauve Souris is adapted from an outstanding opera in the same name. The story itself is very attractive. Moreover, the leading role in the premiere performance is danced by Mr. Petit's wife, Zizi Jeanmaire, which made the choreographer pay extra attention to this ballet. I worked for Mr. Petit for a long time, out of the trust, he ultimately selected me to design the costumes for his ballet.
Of course, working with Roland Petit together is not easy. He's very demanding, and you have to follow his ideas and intentions to get the things done. We often had different opinions, but our goal is the same. We are for the arts. We always tried our best, gave our 100% effort into the creative work. So in the end everything is straightforward, no one would be upset. I could understand the director's idea. Some people might feel not easy to work with Mr. Petit, but I would not, even arguing with him was happy. Although he was demanding, and had bad temper, but I was able to learn a lot from him, got creative inspiration.
Mr. Petit was very fond of Chinese culture, and was hopping to work with Chinese artists together. 10 years ago, we worked on Proust (ou Les intermittences du coeur) in Paris. The ballerinas, dressed in white, needed to have umbrellas in hands. The umbrella I had designed was in the style for 19th-century French noble lady. In the rehearsal, our designed umbrellas were not ready, so we bought some Chinese sun-umbrellas instead for the rehearsals to meet the contingency.
Before the show the umbrellas I designed were made well, but when Mr. Petit saw the umbrellas, he lost his temper and said: "What umbrella you have made? That is bizarre comparing with the Chinese umbrella, far too worse, simply nothing, take it away." Then, Mrs. Jeanmaire came to comfort me, stroking my shoulder, she said: "Don't take it personal. One day when we went to China to perform, the umbrella you designed would be in use." Finally, we used the Chinese umbrella in the ballet performance. From this incident we could see his love of Chinese culture symbols.
Q: What was the most difficult thing to deal with in designing the costumes for ballet La Chauve Souris?
A: Designing and tailoring ballet costume have its specific traditions and styles. To talk about the difficulties, for the evening gowns, we had to take the costume in opera as the design reference, also we needed to make the dancers feel comfortable, not to trouble their dancing, which, therefore required special arrangements to take care of the length, cutting and folding.
Q: What can the audience expect and see the sparkles in your costume design for La Chauve Souris?
A: It is very hard to say which one is the most beautiful and sparkling costume in this ballet. The costumes are directly related to the dance and drama. When audiences watch the ballet, their appreciation reflects their own feelings. If a scene impressed and moved him/her most, then he/she might think the costume in that part is the most dazzling. So in my opinion the costumes are all very beautiful, and everyone can get what he/she likes. Of course, the "cancan" and "Hungarian Dance", some corp dance pieces are very exciting. The family life scene at the beginning of this ballet is very warm. The screenwriter did amazing job to combine and blend the story, dance and costume together perfectly.
Interviewer and Writer: Shi Wei(施伟)
Editor: Sun Yuanna(孙元娜)
(Notes: The interviews might have been done in French. I did the translation from Chinese to English according to the articles published on the blog of the National Ballet of China. If I had the original French edition, the translation could be done with artificial intelligence and machine translation, which might be able to do better job.
If anyone found mistakes in the posts, please let me know as soon as possible. thanks.GIF )
Link to comment

Talk to Luigi Bonino, the Production Supervisor and Stage Manager of La Chauve Souris


Q: Hello Luiqi, could you tell us some stories about you and Mr. Petit? How did you start your career under his directing, and finally become his lifetime assistant after many years?
A: This is a long story certainly. Let me make it shorter. Mr. Petit and I met in 1975 for the first time. Just for the first collaboration we already had a tacit understanding. I really liked his choreography style and his selection of music, so our cooperation was very successful. After two years, I had a chance to be a partner of his wife Zizi in a very important show. Soon after that, subsequently I danced all of his ballets and gradually became familiar with all of his productions.
Then, Mr. Petit began to let me help him in some of the rehearsals, which started my career as his rehearsing assistant for long term, although at that time I still spent lots of time to dance in his troupe. I really like this job, and also enjoy the rehearsing process very much. Especially, now he has left us, then I would strive harder to spread and develop his ballet and style. As Roland Petit was a very special choreographer and director, his style came from classical ballet, but unique, very different.
Q: We all know that the ballet La Chauve Souris has its origin from an opera in the same title, i.e., Johan Strauss' Die Fledermaus. Could you tell us how Mr. Petit did get the idea to create this ballet? How was this project started?
A: The initial goal for Mr. Petit to create this ballet is for his wife Zizi Jeanmaire. This is a very humorous opera, music is also popular. This production would be the first ballet for his wife Zizi to perform after she resumed training, recovered from her Achilles tendon surgery due to an injury about two or three years ago. I was very honored to be her partner, the cooperation was very happy. This work was created in 1979. Since its inception Roland had diversified the stage and costume design for further development, and made it a new look. Now it became a ballet more close to the modern time. We have already performed this ballet in New York, London, Paris and other cities around the world.
Q: The National Ballet of China has decided to re-stage the ballet La Chauve Souris, and all of our dancers feel very excited. What is your expectation for the premiere of ballet La Chauve Souris in China.
A: Of cause, a Big Success! I am sure they would do very well, and enjoy the rehearsing process. I think the Chinese people and we Italian are, about the same, very good at body languages and limb movements to express emotions and feelings. This ballet is full of strong and complex human emotions, fit audiences in all ages. The music is so beautiful. Anyway, I wish the show successful, I hope the audiences would like this ballet. For me, I am very happy to come here again, working with dancers of NB of China.
Interviewer & Writer: Shi Wei(施伟)
Editor: Sun Yuanna(孙元娜)
Link to comment

Talk to Jean-Michel Désiré, the Lighting Supervisor and Designer, Stage Production Supervisor of La Chauve Souris


Q: We found that as a lighting designer, you only do lighting design for dance productions, and almost all your designs are for Master Roland Petit. Can you tell us why, what is the reason?
A: Yes. When I first met Mr. Roland Petit, I was about 17-18 years old. Although I was young and inexperienced, he trusted me very much and let me do lighting design for La Chauve Souris. He taught me a lot. You can say that my career was started by him. All of the technique and skills that I have learned and mastered, including all aspects of stage works, all come from his gift. So I have decided to work for Roland Petit only in my life. Because if I designed for other people, I would think that's a betrayal of him. Anyway, we worked together for so many years, experiencing so many beautiful moments together. I do not know how to thank him. I remember one time I asked him: "Many years have passed. Now we can claim to be friends, right?" He replied ...... (talking about this, Mr. Désiré moved to tears, silent for a long time), he said: "Of course! we are brothers! "

I have cooperated with the National Ballet of China for nearly 10 years, which is also for Mr. Roland Petit, because he liked China, loved Chinese culture. One thing I want to tell you, the last work in his life, The Last Paradise, was choreographed for the National Ballet.

Q: These days, during the stage setup (assembly / synthesis), I noticed that your requirements are very rigorous on all details. So our staging staffs wrote down your comments for almost 30 required corrections and revisions. In general, do you normally make so many modifications?
A: Oh, of course, there would always be some changes in stage settings, one way or another, because we want to present the best effects to the audience. Since the venues of performances are always different, some details must be adjusted on locations accordingly. Especially, for such important and large show, we even need to make some changes between the shows on the first day and the fourth day. It is similar to that ballet dancers do rehearsing, every time they will identify deficiencies, in the pursuit of perfection. This process will never have an end. I think the staging staffs here are very careful, very patient. The quality of stage works they have done early on is excellent.

Q: Can you talk about the stage setting and lighting design, as well as other related aspects in ballet La Chauve Souris to outline the artistic achievements for the majority of our audiences.
A: Ha, lots to say, to talk about. Regarding its choreography, drama, music, costumes, stage sets, lighting, there are sparkles everywhere in La Chauve Souris. For me, personally, I think Johann Strauss' music was fabulous. You know, every time after I watched La Chauve Souris, those melodies would be echoed in my mind for a long time, could not be forgotten. I believe the audiences would be naturally singing and humming the melodies also, after watching this ballet. (Laughing)

This ballet's storyline is very interesting, very attractive. Plus, Master Roland Petit's brilliant choreography, solo, Pas de Deux, corp dances, all distinctive, but integral, very exciting. In fact, all dances from Master Petit's choreography are story-telling arts. In addition, the costumes from Luisa's design are very, very good, splendid. Wilmotte's stage sets design has such modern flavor that the lighting would make everything on the stage, dancers, costumes, stage sets, ..., become even more beautiful! Anyway, this is a perfect visual feast!


At the end of this interview, Mr. Désiré asked us to include a complete copy of his writing in our interview notes so as to pay tribute to Master Roland Petit.

[The following is written by Mr. Désiré.]

There is such a group of people, they are very fortunate to be able to work around Master Roland Petit and accompany him to finish the final journey of his life. As one of them, I feel proud.
I love every piece of his works. He taught me all aspects of stage work. All of his rehearsing, checking, correcting, proofing, any one of them, made me learn a lot, be benefited a great deal. The contribution that I made for his gorgeous and great repertoire should also be owing to him. When I started working for him for the first time, I was still an ignorant child. Working with him through all these years, thinking of every conversation between us, that led my infinite admiration for him, let me be what I am today.
On stage, Zizi is dreamily beautiful ...
He is gone, leaving us alone in this world ...
He was so generous to us, trusted us.
Just a few months before his death, I once asked: "After so many years of cooperation, I think we should be regarded as good friends." he replied: "Of course, we are brothers!" I was overjoyed.
These precious memories will forever stay in my heart. I want to say again, and repeat forever, "Thank you, Master."

- Jean-Michel Désiré

Interviewer & Writer: Zhou Chaoran(周超然)
Editor: Sun Yuanna(孙元娜)


Link to comment


On August 13, 2014 The National Ballet of China held a News Conference to make official announcement that the Premiere of ballet La Chauve Souris, by the famous French choreographer Roland Petit, would be on September 11th to 14th, 2014, in Beijing.

This ballet is also a program in the annual "National Artistic Troupe Performing Season" of 2014. Feng Ying, the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of China, Wang Quanxing and Zhang Yi, the Deputy Heads of NB of China, Mr. Luigi Bonino, the Executive Producer of La Chauve Souris, attended the conference.

In November, 2005 Master Roland Petit, when he was 81 years old, was invited by the NB of China to stage his three most representative ballets, Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et La Mort (Youth and Death) and L'Arlésienne. The show of these distinctive ballets had been enthusiastically welcomed by Chinese audiences and caused a huge shock in Chinese ballet world.

In June, 2006 Roland Petit came back and worked with NB of China again to stage the masterpiece Pink Floyd Ballet, to introduce his classical rock ballet to Chinese audiences.

In 2006 the Chinese government issued the "Friendship Award", the highest award for foreigners in China, to Master Petit, for his outstanding contribution to Sino-French cultural exchange.

Roland Petit passed away in July, 2011. He was affectionately known as "Grandfather Luo" by Chinese dancers (for the pronunciation of Roland is "Luo Lan" in Chinese). Chinese ballet world lost a mentor. To commemorate the Master, the NB of China decided to re-stage his another favorite ballet in 2014.

Writer: Li Yinghui
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Zhang Yi


Note:This is a summary of the news release published on the website of National Ballet of China. Most of contents in the news article were already covered in our previous stories under this topic title.]

Link to comment

In the afternoon of August 13th, 2014 the National Ballet of China held an audition for young dancers who would join the performance of ballet La Chauve Souris. Many ballet students in the amateur ballet school of NB of China took part in the audition. Feng Ying, the Artistic Director of the National Ballet, Mr. Luigi Bonino, the Production Supervisor and Stage Manager of La Chauve Souris, as well as Ms. Gillian Whittingham and Xu Gang, a ballet Master of the NBC, were the members of the juries.

Only one month away from the premiere days, September 11th to 14th, five young dancers would be needed in this ballet, and 11 preparatory dancers also for replacements. So, 16 young dancers would be selected in the recruitment audition. All of them would join the rehearsals on 14th to 16th of August and early September. Finally they would show up with Chinese and foreign ballet stars together on stage of La Chauve Souris.

The audition was not only serious, but also lively. 80 ballet students participated in the audition. All young performers were in high spirits and full of enthusiasm, they radiated their endless energy to every one at the audition site. Several ballet teachers helped to organize and manage the audition so that the entire process was orderly going. Young participants had shown excellent imitation and impromptu dances.

Feng Ying and Mr. Bonino are very satisfied for the recruited young dancers. They highly appraised the organizing of audition activities by the ballet school teachers.

Writer: Zhu Lin
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Zhang Yi

References :





Link to comment

The National Ballet of China has published the credit list for Premiere of La Chauve-Souris in Beijing, China on their website:

Cast Member of La Chauve-Souris

La Chauve-Souris, Ballet in two acts

Choreographer and screenplay: Roland Petit (adaptation based on the operetta Die Fledermaus)

Composer: Johann Strauss II

Arrangement and orchestration: Douglas Gamley

Stage designer: Jean-Michel Wilmotte

Costume designer: Luisa Spinatelli

Light designer and stage supervisor: Jean-Michel Désiré

Implementation and supervision: Luigi Bonino

Repetiteurs: Luigi Bonino, Gillian Whittingham

Music copyright: Josef Weinberger Limited Company

World premiere: National Ballet of Marseille, Monte Carlo, 1979

Chinese premiere: National Ballet of China, Tianqiao Theater, September 11, 2014

Chinese premiere producer: Feng Ying

Chinese general repetiteur: Xu Gang

Performed by: National Ballet of China

Played by: National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra

Artistic Director: Feng Ying

Conductors: Zhang Yi, Liu Ju

Guest cast: Manuel Legris

Date/time: 19:30 September 11-14, 2014

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao Theater

Price: VIP/600/500/400/300/200/100/50

Ticket booking: 83553737-3304/3310/5506

Link to comment

Talk to Gillian Whittingham, Répétiteur of La Chauve Souris

Q: You came to work with the National Ballet of China as a repetiteur of ballet La Chauve Souris and assistant of Roland Petit. Could you tell us when did you start to collaborate with Master Petit?
A: Probably around 1998, I was invited to take part in the staging of Notre Dame de Paris (by Roland Petit) at La Scala. Mr. Luigi Bonino was in charge of this project, they let me be Mr. Bonino's assistant. That was the first time I have ever met Roland Petit and Bonino. After finishing the project, I stayed at La Scala theater and took a position as a ballet master. Later on Roland Petit came to La Scala to re-stage Chéri, a ballet he created specifically for La Scala dancers Carla Fracci and Massimo Murru. Because Mr. Petit and Mr. Bonino would go to Japan for some time, I was very honored to undertake the task to stage his ballet. That was my first time rehearsing Master Petit's ballet at La Scala. Since then, we have rehearsed many ballets at La Scala , one after another.
Q: What kind of impact has your experience of working with Master Roland Petit brought on you?
A: We have to admit that Mr. Petit is one of the most famous choreographers of last century. Although I am very lucky to have opportunities to work with many other choreographers, Mr. Petit's ballet style is very diverse, dealing with great variety of subjects. He was very good at finding the best of each dancer, exploring potential of every artist. Particularly, I appreciate those poetic elements and musicality in Mr. Petit's ballets, which is too special for me. We often see very exciting dances, but not very often poetic creations. However, we could learn all of these from the Master, and utilize them to my own work.
Q: We have also interviewed several other primary staffs working for La Chauve Souris. We can see that all of you are like a team. Even though the Master has passed away, but you are still working together to make every endeavor to carry on his repertoires. Whether this is due to the Master's personal charisma?
A: In fact, I feel he is still with us. Especially for Luigi and Jean-Michel, they have spent the most time in their life with Mr. Petit together. And now I was Luigi's assistant, from him I could see the reflection of Mr. Petit. When you really love an artist like Mr. Petit, you would be the same as us, Louisa, Jean-Michel, Luigi and me, we will strive towards the same goal.
Q: Let us talk about La Chauve Souris. When did you start working on this ballet?
A: After Notre Dame de Paris and Chéri this was the third ballet we worked on and accomplished together. This ballet was to be made ​​into a movie. I was the Master's assistant. Luigi played as Ulrich in the movie, Massimo Murru and Alessandra Ferri were the actor and actress for leading roles. During the rehearsals I could learn something from every one, whomever, Mr. Petit or other stars. This is very helpful for my rehearsal works in the future.
Q: How is the rehearsal going here in the NB of China now? Are you satisfied with the performance of our dancers?
A: First, the National Ballet of China has given me a very positive and favorable impression. This is a very good troupe. The dancers are very modest, which is very important. Arguably, among principles and corp dancers, there are always some differences. From my experience, the great dancers are always open-minded. The dancers of NB of China are endowed with this quality. Another thing, that has surprised me, when I speak, they always keep quiet and listen, which is rare in Europe. Sometimes, when I did rehearsing for some famous European theaters, I had to tell them: "Please be quiet." There is no need here. So they learn quickly.
The only thing to surmount, Mr. Petit's choreography contains some humorous irony. To show this emotion, it is a challenge for them. But they do not have any technical problems. There is a Hungarian dance, I almost didn't need to correct them. Their techniques are very strong, their status is getting better and better, which makes the whole process a lot easier for me, as a Repetiteur.
Q: Has anything interesting happened during rehearsals? La Chauve Souris is a family comedy. We have heard from the dancers that you are also a quite humorous person.
A: That wasn't me, but the dancers, they are very funny! We often laugh out when we go through musical rehearsals. I think, that shows the dancers’ joy and participation in rehearsal. If you do not laugh, the rehearsal may not take effect. And I let them know why they do this jump in such a way. Every dancing step is meaningful. Because, in general, the audiences cannot really know the dancing steps, they want to see the ballet, the dancers leading them into the whole story, communicating with them, moving them.
Q: What is your expectation for La Chauve Souris' premiere in China? Maybe, you have some thing more to say?
A: I want to say "Thank You" to leaders of this troupe. Actually, here all of you are great, all adorable, very warm to me, always helping me. At the same time the efficiency is surprisingly high. I believe this will be a fantastic show!
Interviewer & Writer: Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren
Link to comment

Talk to Prima Ballerina Zhang Jian


Zhang Jian (Bella): To perform the ballet La Chauve Souris, the biggest challenge is acting, because in this drama ballet there are some particular gestures, expressions and body language, which the foreigners are very good at, they just behave like that in ordinary life, but Chinese people would only use speech language to express. Probably, foreigners are relatively extroversive and have strong desire to show off, while the Chinese people are more introverted. We did not really have chance to play this kind of humorous light comedy before. But at this moment, it is a kind of nice swap in our busy working schedule, to dance a ballet that is very witty and imbued with fun of everyday life.
Currently the rehearsal has gone very smoothly. We had danced Grandfather Luo (Roland Petit)'s ballets, such as Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et La Mort (Youth and Death), L'Arlésienne and Pink Floyd Ballet, as well as ballet The Last Paradise he designed and choreographed specially for National Ballet of China. So we have danced ballets in his style for many times. Plus, the communication between us and the foreign experts of this ballet, e.g., the staging supervisor Mr. Luigi Bonino, is unhindered.
Speaking for myself, everything in La Chauve Souris is fresh to me. I will play as Bella in this drama. At the beginning, she was a very decent wife, doing laundry, cooking, taking care of children daily. Later on she changed completely, instead, going glamorous Maxim restaurant, and so on. Just because there are such changes, it would have different styles of performances. To show the changes of personality, the development of a character between different scenes in this ballet, for me, is very interesting.
Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren
Link to comment

Talk to Principle Dancer Sheng Shidong


Sheng Shidong (John): Hello everyone! I am a Principle dancer with the National Ballet of China. I am going to dance as John, a leading character, in our new ballet La Chauve Souris.

La Chauve Souris is a comedy ballet, very humorous, with a lot of sparkling. For example, the actor would be hanging wire to fly (with bat wings). So, there are many challenges. This ballet is also a life-based drama, it is about what happens in daily life of civilians. A couple with their children, life is very warm and happy. Then, some disagreements and contradictions have arisen. The choreographer adapted some trivial nothings in life to transform them on the stage, with artistic and sublimated interpretation. As we say, art comes from live, but is a higher form of live.

In addition, in this ballet there are some very beautiful dancing sequences, humorous episodes, as well as the scene in a luxury restaurant Maxim. The ballet music is from John Strauss jr, his waltzes we are all familiar with. The rendering of music and ballet would make the audience feel relaxed and joyful. So, our audience can easily accept this ballet and understand it.

La Chauve Souris is different from those elegant classical repertoire we danced before. Its story is closer to our everyday life. This ballet is choreographed by the world renowned choreographer Roland Petit, he blended different art forms together into a ballet drama. For example, in La Chauve Souris there are some ballroom dancing, Hungarian dance, as well as some dance vocabularies from Broadway shows, which Mr. Petit had cleverly worked into La Chauve Souris. IMO, the reason why Master Petit is great, that is because he has made the ballet easier, simpler and more beautiful.

In the rehearsal, I would co-play with few kids who play the roles as John's children in the ballet to present some trivia in ever day's life, to share some interesting story with everyone. Often, the more real the drama is, the more moving the play. Our audience would not feel that the actors were contrived, simulating and pretending on stage. Also, for the audience, you don't need to discriminate between classical ballet and modern ballet, just enjoy the ballet, immerse yourselves in the drama.

Over these years our troupe has been doing meaningful and significant works, such as introducing foreign classics to Chinese audience, at the same time presenting the Chinese original ballet productions and our outstanding artists to the world. China's ballet is as good as foreign ballets, our dancers are also very admirable. I hope the audience could come to the theater to watch our annual drama, La Chauve Souris. I also hope all of you could support Chinese ballet, support the development of Chinese culture and art. As a matter of fact, ballet is not far away from us.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren
Link to comment
Talk to Principle Dancer Yu Bo
Yu Bo (Ulrich): The new ballet La Chauve Souris, being premiered in September, is also choreographed by Master Roland Petit, but in somehow different style from the ballets we danced before. For Carmen and L'Arlésienne, we started with feeling the music, the plot-line and the characters are all around love, life and death, pretty serious and heavy, and Pink Floyd Ballet, rather more modern. In this ballet, drama and dance come together, and in some scene the dramatic performances are even more than dancing.

This is the first time I have attempted to play a role like Ulrich, I quite like that. We usually make joke of this ballet as a "family ethic drama". It is about the emotion between men and women, there is some tanglement. Then, Ulrich is supposed to be a role in underplot of manipulating. His action is exaggerated. Now I am "deep into the drama." Every day I am thinking about this role, not how to dance, but wondering how to express the dramatic tensions in the character.

We watched the video, in which Mr. Bonino played as Ulrich, he is especially wonderful. So I have a lot of pressure, because it is impossible to surpass him. I just wanted to try to interpret the Master's choreography as he desired, not leave out the wit and humor, spread the witty & humorous in the ballet to the audiences. Let the wit be wit, the humor be humor.

Finally, hope our ballet fans would come to the show to cheer, give us much attention, a lot of support.
Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren
Link to comment

Talk to Prima Ballerina Zhu Yan, The Captain of Dancer Team


Zhu Yan (Bella): I had danced Roland Petit's ballets, the Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et La Mort (Youth and Death), Pink Floyd Ballet. Those ballets are relatively similar in style. But, this time dancing as Bella in the La Chauve Souris is quite a challenging for me. From the beginning of rehearsals till now, I have got more and more interesting and absorbing. No matter how much experience an actress has gained on stage, how vast repertoire she has, the new work would bring new excitements and new experiences. It makes me feel great that I have found I can still learn a lot. Just because it was very difficult for me to get inside of the role at the beginning, I have spent all the more time on pondering it. The whole process is very joyful.

It is worth to mention the rehearsing supervisor Mr. Bonino. I have noticed a very obvious differentiation. He had issued many requirements on the quality of our dancing movements during his rehearsing in previous years. But this time it was not too much on correcting our action, but mainly to give guidance in terms of performance. IMO, after all these years of training, we have made ​​great progress through more and more rehearsals, our technique has been improved a lot. I have lots of new thoughts and my "perception and concept" have been changed through his rehearsals.

From my point of view, the most important for a ballet dancer is how to use her/his body to tell the story, to say something to the audience clearly. Because we are not simply moving the arms, the legs, but dancing with heart in the motion to externalize story. Thus the ballet has its soul, the audience could be moved and inspired. Otherwise, the audience does not know what you're performing.

As my understanding, this ballet, as a matter of fact, is very close to the current social reality, reflecting today's social problems, that is, what is the correct family ethic. I think we rehearse and put on this ballet, not just for actors to have a special help in acting perception, let us get new insight of ballet art. From the perspective of the audience's view, it is also a very good drama. The audiences will get a lot of inspiration from the ballet story, thinking about the family responsibility, or something meaningful, rather than just watching a show. So this is every good ballet to bring people to a special perceiving.

Interviewer & Writer: Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren



Link to comment

Talk to Principle Dancer Li Jun


Li Jun (Ulrich): We have been rehearsing our new ballet La Chauve Souris for few weeks. Overall, we follow the experts' arrangements to go step by step in accordance. As we carry out the rehearsing more and more, the actors will slowly approaching their roles. We definitely are getting better.

My role in the La Chauve Souris is Ulrich, he is pretty witty, humorous, a character in more dramatic style.

How should I describe? La Chauve Souris is very different from repertoires the NB of China introduced before. Those are very serious, of massiness styles, and philosophical to a certain degree. But this ballet is very witty, humorous, makes people feel very relaxed. For the audience, then, after a day of work, watching this show, they would not feel particularly tired.

First, from the perspective of music, Johann Strauss's music, the very beautiful waltz, will make people feel relaxed. Considering the ballet story, you may have more or less knew the plotline, what is this ballet about, i.e., the importance of family. IMO, our people now have the same concern about family values. The theme of La Chauve Souris matched our current propaganda to family-based, enhance the family affinity, this kind of basic values.

Probably, the main problem for dancers to concern is our performance. Because we had no experience to play this kind of specific characters in a humorous drama previously, it is difficult to interpret the characters. We are good at tragedy and comedy, but not witty dramas. Wit is hard to present, that is an intermediate state between the comedy and serious drama. If I went too far, if mishandled, it would outsmart myself to make a fool of myself, that is not witty humor. So at this point, there must be a good distinction, actors must be very accurately grasp the degree of performance.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren


Link to comment

Talk to Xu Gang, Ballet Master with National Ballet of China,
Chinese General Repetiteur for La Chauve Souris


Xu Gang: If your role is Bella, you are Bella, a housewife who is every day surrounded by basic daily necessities in real life, she has lost the passion for life. But, she wants to find some fun in ordinary life, to find the sparkle of love between men and women, and the spark could last. ... From a housewife, Bella suddenly becomes a beauty attracting all admirers. In addition to counting on making-up and dancing movements, the dancer must rely on her technique and performance. But also, she has to believe in herself, and dare to throw caution to the winds. Do little more of thinking, do a little bit of effort, she can be further improved, go beyond herself. That is the demand for dancers in this drama.

The premiere of La Chauve Souris is coming soon. Our rehearsal has also entered the final stage. My biggest concern is that our dancers are still not very comfortable enough, still prim. This is our deficiency at this moment. Our dancers are relatively simple and naive, like (Ma) Xiaodong, Xiao Sun (Rui-chen), they are actually too young. John in this ballet is a "night owls", he would become more energetic at night, his eyes would be shining as long as he saw girls. If failing to get that, we must take some references, such as reading books, watching movies, dramas and other dancers' performances, to grasp such character. Sometimes the dancer thought he already played in place, but the audience might feel not enough. Mr. Bonino always said: 'if you could not touch yourself, how could you move audiences?' Assumed that I was an innocent boy now, never had a love affair, but I'm going to play a womanizer, an experienced player in realm of love, then I also must do. All I can do is self-denial, forgetting myself, to perform the role.

Moreover, I feel that everyone was more exciting at the time when we started rehearsing, and later on got a little tired, less passionate. Therefor, we did some adjustment in the schedule so that the dancers would keep fresh spirit. I would like to take some distant examples, such as Raise the Red Lantern. We now show it at the National Theater. From 2001 to now, it has been played for almost 13 years. Similarly, the Red Detachment of Women, we played for 50 years, but the dancers still present livingly characters to the audience. Even if your performance of today is the 100th time to play the same role, you have to do it as your premiere, whcih is also the basic training for every dancer. We have been saying, dancers rely on their own skills, training, hard work, understanding of the characters, re-creation, etc., to continue to tap new exploring flash.

Ballet dancers practice 'tendus and relevés' every day. Doing it attentively, your feet would get increasingly higher arches, better stretching. Otherwise, you waste your time over your exercise. The practice is the case, the show as well. I do not know whether or not I have the ability to bring any more changes to the dancers. This is a course young dancers must go through. I have now come to understand that, but I do not dance any more. So, we eagerly hope that young dancers could make self-control as soon as they could, make progress every day.

The most important, IMO, we should get hold of technical skills at first. For example, the Pas de Deux, choreographer's requirements must be reached, as well as solo, variation and so on. After these are accomplished, then make efforts on physical endurance, performances, innovation. Courses are never endless. Maybe, Director Feng and I have quite high standard for everyone. I hope our dancers could make progress every day, every moment, to complete the characters, to portray flesh and blood.

Now there are just few days away from the premiere. I think there is still some room for each group to improve, and surely we can improve. Even if the premiere received all flowers, all the applause, a dancer should think back and review how she/he could do better for this character, always have higher goals and aspirations. So much as an evening dress, a dancer needs pondering how to dress it more beautifully. Many details can be worked out better. I, as a rehearsal supervisor, would help them as much as possible. We still have time to go to the struggle for a higher goal.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren


Link to comment

Talk to Wang Qimin, Prima Ballerina with National Ballet of China


Wang Qimin (Bella): In La Chauve Souris I will play the heroine Bella. This ballet is referred as an European humorous drama. It does not specially emphasize on technical skills, but the performance style is very particular. We previously had little experience in performing such ballet. It is difficult for Chinese people to convey exceptionally exaggerated humor, and hard to show that kind of aesthetic taste properly.

At the beginning of the ballet heroine Bella is an ordinary housewife. But, after she fails to find her husband, she hurries up to call a friend for help, and then, she is "turned" into a radiant beauty. This ballet is so much different from previous ballets we have danced. Those are kind of more stylized, there are always Pas de Deux, male variations, female variations and so on.

Now I have a knee injury, it is still slowly recovering. Since this ballet is not too demanding technically, therefor I was able to attend the rehearsals. Now I also have different attitudes from before, that is, I quite enjoy the rehearsal of every day and relish the moments on the stage, because now I can only take part in selected ballets. So, when I am able to achieve whatever goals and carry out demands of the ballet, I still want to stand on the stage.

I am very familiar with our rehearsing supervisor Mr. Bonino. We met in 2005 when we were rehearsing Carmen. In 2006 and 2007, the French choreographer Master Roland Petit took Li Jun and me to join his international touring company, Mr. Bonino was in the tour with us together. We are all good friends, that makes the rehearsals going very well. The most important thing is that Mr. Bonino has particularly enlighten us with inspiration on performance. He can demonstrate whatever he is instructing us to do. His instructions are always very clear, which is good learning process for us.

Maybe, our audience got used to watching classical ballets, btw, every one is familiar with Swan Lake and other classical ballets. I hope the audience could change mindset and come to see La Chauve Souris, to accept foreign sense of humor. At the same time, it is no doubt that we will try our best to express the sense of humor very well.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran

Editor: Sun Yuanna

Photographer: Shi Ren




Link to comment

Talk to Ma Xiaodong, Principle Dancer with National Ballet of China


Ma Xiaodong (John): I think this is the most interesting thing in ballet performing that I am playing a role whose age is very different from my own age. In La Chauve Souris John is a middle-aged father who has many, many children. I have neither this kind of life experience, nor the knowledge gained from others. However, now I have to try to understand John, I need to keep on trying, making any attempt boldly to figure out some mental activity of a married man between 35-40 years old. Such effort would be great help to my future. I really like to portray more characters with different mental states and psychological patterns.

It was a little bit difficult for me at the beginning, because the gap is really big. However, I will try to reach the director's demands. I think I still can do more research and make more effort to get further into the character through, to express the inner emotion, the characteristics of John, to show his psychological changes. Actually, in La Chauve Souris all roles changes a lot, there are big contrasts from the beginning to the end. I hope that the audience would have fun to see the comparison, see the actors' interpreting of different personalities.

This is a very unusual ballet, I hope you enjoy it with appreciation, insights and means of enlightening. As long as you can see something you like and draw your inspiration from this ballet, that means we achieve our goals to do the show.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren


Link to comment

Talk to Sun Ruichen, Soloist with National Ballet of China


Sun Ruichen (John): In our new ballet La Chauve Souris I will play John, Bella's husband. This time our rehearsal is not the same as before, nevertheless more focused on dramatic performances. We are not just doing an ordinary ballet show, but a ballet with a kind of European style of humor. Although there are some challenges, but overall it is not bad, we can learn a lot.

Every dancing sequence designed for my role is very interesting. Although the plot is simple, but the mood and mentation of a character in different scenes are not the same, so it will be particularly pleasing to play. Through our joint efforts the rehearsal is going very well now. The major sequences have been worked on for a long time. Recently we have started rehearsing with corps dancing together, following the story's development, going slowly and smoothly.

I think the La Chauve Souris is worth for everyone to go to the theater to watch. This kind of ballet, its modality of art are so rare in China, almost none. So this ballet is very unique, the audience will see a different styles of performances.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren


Link to comment

Talk to Zheng Yu, Soloist with National Ballet of China


Zheng Yu (Ulrich): I would play Ulrich in ballet La Chauve Souris. He is one of the major roles through the whole ballet. This ballet is full of French romantic sentiment. As the dramatic story goes on, there are a few scenes in which Ulrich adores the heroine Bella very much, he kisses her hand, shows his charm of their intimacy. However, when Bella asks him for help, he would make suggestions for Bella, and help her dressing up to get back John.
The dancing sequences in this ballet are in typical Petit's Style. At the beginning it was very hard for me to learn some of these movements. I have to do a number of steps that I have never encountered before. As you know, the 6th position in ballet is rarely achieved in other ballets, but very often in La Chauve Souris. There are such steps, beginning with a strict 6th position, then moving to the 5th, then moving back to the 6th position again, which is particularly difficult. However, when I saw the executive producer Mr. Bonino doing these, I found that he is very flexible, and his facial expressions are marvelously rich, unusually exaggerated, a bit like Charlie Chaplin. That is indeed so wonderful!
I hope we could be ready to dance more freely and smoothly, our performance could be more proficient, before the La Chauve Souris premiere on September 11th, so as to make the audience deeply impressed.
Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren

Link to comment

Talk to Zhang Yi, Deputy Head & Music Director with National Ballet of China


Zhang Yi (Conductor): The music of ballet La Chauve Souris is based on Die Fledermaus, a famous operetta by "The Waltz King", Johann Strauss II. Strauss's music is not only popular with the European and Western audiences, but also very familiar to Chinese people.

But the operetta music is not specifically composed for dancing. In accordance with Roland Petit's requirements, Mr. Douglas Gamley adapted the core motive of Die Fledermaus, combined with Johann Strauss II's other works, as well as different types of dance music from Johann Strauss I and Josef Strauss, such as Galop, Mazurka, Czardas, Polka, Waltz, and etc., then cleverly blended all together to provide a good foundation for this ballet.

The ballet synopsis (script) is based on the operetta script. However, the ballet drama has a great leap forward regarding the story, stage effects, how much it touches upon the real life. After all, operetta Die Fledermaus was born in the 19th century, while Roland Petit's ballet was created in the 20th century. A different era, era is in progress.

In my opinion, the music of La Chauve Souris perfectly meets the dance choreography, and also agrees with the stage design. Especially in the middle of the act I, there is a scene that John to "grow" bat's wings, fly out the window. At that moment the colorful music gives a sense of the vast sky, which perfectly blends with everything such as flying with wires, sky, stars, and etc. on stage. When you see the overall effect at the moment of windows opening, you will feel that every thing is appearing vividly and incisively, all are combined seamlessly.

We are very confident for interpretation of this work. La Chauve Souris is the most important ballet of our theater this year. All crews in the troupe, including the symphony orchestra, treat this ballet very seriously. Because we attach great importance to this ballet, the orchestra gave two very weighty concerts at the National Theater this summer. Thus, when we come back to play Strauss's music, it helps to reduce the great burden. Just like, after carrying 200 pounds of stuff, we would feel easier to carry 100 pounds. Moreover, the vast majority of programs in those two concerts at the National Theater are German and Austrian traditional music, while Johann Strauss is precisely "the Waltz King" in Austria, so every musician in our orchestra is with high proficiency now.

Finally, I would like to talk about some highlights in ballet La Chauve Souris to our audience:

First of all, when I saw the video of "bat" for the first time, I already liked it very much. Some of the stage design is really beyond imagination, breaking our previous perception to common ballet in general.

Secondly, this kind of comedy ballet is still relatively rare in China, but the comic opera (Operetta) had very important standing in European theaters in the old days. Performing such an European humor drama is considerably difficult to our dancers. We invited Mr. Bonino, who was one of the original performers, to supervise us. He personally takes the responsibility as the executive producer, which is a huge help for our actors.

Finally, Johann Strauss' music is suitable for all ages. Either music professionals or ordinary people, whether or not he/she is very knowledgeable about music, music lovers, even those friends who hardly listen to music, every one can enjoy Strauss' music.

In short, on stage there is the show of a humorous comedy ballet, it is performed by the finest ballet dancers of China, the story is also close to today's reality that a playful man likes to go out to have fun, and finally returns home through the efforts of the hostess. So, no matter from what point of view, all audiences from all social circles would be attracted by the charm of ballet La Chauve Souris.

Interviewer & Writer:Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren



Link to comment

Talk to Feng Ying, The Head & Artistic Director of the National Ballet of China


First of all I would like to talk about why we have chosen this ballet. We've danced Roland Petit's ballets for many times. Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et La Mort (Youth and Death), L'Arlésienne, those are in three different styles already. The NB of China has the responsibility and obligation to show ballet arts in different styles, different times, to introduce valued works from choreography masters to the audience, and to the world. We are not only a classical ballet troupe to dance the classical ballets, but also Chinese ballets and modern ballets, to show a great variety of ballets. This time we have selected La Chauve Souris, that is a decision based on the classical repertoire we have performed previously. Speaking for our dancers, this ballet has lots of challenges in aspects of artistic performance and ballet techniques.

Johann Strauss's operetta Die Fledermaus itself is dramatics. To us, this is a new breakthrough, a new attempt. We must first have strong ballet skills as the support. The more important is the capability of dancers' performing, whether or not our dancers can grasp the special style of this ballet. One of the purposes for us to introduce La Chauve Souris is to let the dancers get all-round development, become true ballet artists, continue to enrich the mind, body and soul. We believe that La Chauve Souris would especially benefit our National Ballet.

It is worth to mention that Wang Qimin would be back on stage to take part in this premiere, after having a knee injury for a year. In addition, Zhu Yan, Zhang Jian and all our prima ballerinas and principle dancers would show up in premiere of La Chauve Souris. In the rehearsals I have noticed that the dancers are very vigorous and active with extremely passionate mood, so the rehearsing is in full swing. They have such strong desire to learn, so much intrinsic motivation to enrich themselves, which is very good.

Our orchestra will accompany with an excellent and strong lineup for the premiere. It is also very special that some opera singers will be invited to join our performances. The stage design is very innovative. When we choose a new ballet program, we not only consider for dancers, but also its comprehensive artistry values. Master Roland Petit has shown great creativity and power in his different kinds of productions, that can benefit us for lifetime and give us creative inspiration in the future.

The La Chauve Souris premiere in China will be carried out from September 11th to the 14th, at Tianqiao Theater. Here I want to tell our ballet fans that for the premiere on September 11th we are inviting the former ballet star with Paris Opera Ballet, now the Artistic Director of Vienna State Ballet, Manuel Legris to dance the role of Ulrich. We believe that our fans are looking forward to this super ballet-star, so I am disclosing the casting arrangement to you in advance. (1)

Besides the Teatro alla Scala Ballet in Milan, Vienna State Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, no other ballet company has produced ballet La Chauve Souris. Because the international master choreographer has wanted to recognize and prove that a troupe is capable to handle such a challenge, before being selected to interpret of his work. So, it can be counted as an assessment of international recognition of the NB of China. I also want to share our great sense of pride with all of you.

Interviewer & Writer: Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren



NOTE (1) Very often, the National Ballet of China would not publish the casting information in advance. In general, the casting list would be shown up on a huge LCD board inside the theater on the wall about 20 minutes before the show starts. Once the curtains are lifted up, the lights are turned off, the LCD off, the info of casting is gone. Every time when I go to a ballet performance by the NB of China and ask for casting info in the lobby, I am always told: "Look at the wall!"


Link to comment

Talk to Li Ning, Repetiteur with the National Ballet of China


Li Ning (Nanny): I am a repetiteur for La Chauve Souris. I will also play the role of Nanny. So, I am having a dual-identity in the premiere.

As a repetiteur, in my point of view, our dancers are capable to quickly reach the requirements on dancing movements. The most difficult part is to grasp the style of this ballet. After all, there are lots of character dances in this ballet. During the rehearsals the foreign experts have been coaching us on so many details with particular emphasis on "play", as well as being active and animated. Our dancers have got a lot of progress, but still have no enough loose. This probably is due to that Chinese people are more restrained, not give loose to humor, not behave so relaxed like foreigners. However, performing La Chauve Souris and diverse works would certainly be very helpful for the future development of our dancers.

I play the role of Nanny who demands very exaggerated performance, even to that kind of amusing action, which could be more attractive to Chinese audience. This ballet shows European amorous feelings in a witty and humorous style, but at the same time it reveals the truth that the most basic of family ethical standards is universal in nature. In Fact, Chinese people love to watch stories, listen to stories, and tell stories. So, this ballet would be more or less suitable for Chinese audience.

Interviewer & Writer: Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren



Link to comment

Talk to Manuel Legris, The Artistic Director of Vienna State Ballet


In my entire dance career, I have played lots of roles, my dancing style has also been changing. For example, at the beginning the most roles I had danced are Princes, plus some gentleman characters. Then gradually I began to play some of the negative, dark roles, such as Claude Frollo in Notre Dame de Paris choreographed by Roland Petit, very distinct personalities, in addition to a number of other villains. The only thing I had not tried was comedy role, and I was not sure whether or not I could manage this type of roles. Later, I went to work for the Vienna State Ballet at the time when the troupe was just rehearsing La Chauve Souris. So I came into knowing this ballet. But because my position is the Artistic Director of the troupe, there was no way for me to star in the ballet, until we took La Chauve Souris to Tokyo. The people in Tokyo Ballet insisted on that I must have a role in this ballet. By then, the only role I could play is Ulrich, so I officially become a La Chauve Souris dancer. Then I found out that the role of Ulrich is very suitable for me, I could instantly get inside the character. Things were just like that, we made a huge success in Japan. After that, I also danced some episodes of Ulrich in few gala shows and etc. It is really unbelievable, I actually can play such a role!

Mr. Luigi Bonino is one of the original stars to play Ulrich. He is great, too special, as if he was born for this role, I think so. But after all, I'm not him, we each have different characteristics, so I have to find my own interpretation to act. Roland Petit's choreography was always very subtle. No matter who is playing, it is not so easy to control, either for me or Chinese dancers. I also do not think there is only one Ulrich in the world, he can also have a varieties of possibilities. We can not simply rely on imitation, but also need to show our own interpretation. To play this role, the most important is to melt the acting into our own blood. Therefor, for my playing, I would not consider he is completely comic, but to tell the whole story in a natural way, show his love for Bella and how he is managing to make Bella and John become reconciled.

Master Roland Petit's La Chauve Souris is with a rich French style, especially the scenes in Maxim restaurant, which reveal that the gentlemen and ladies in French high society usually are fun-laughing and wallowing in pleasure, every movement of theirs is very French. But my favorite part is the story, it is suitable for ballet performance. The French often say: "This is life." La Chauve Souris is such a drama.

Given such a story background and cultural background, Chinese dancers really need to spend some time to understand the roles, adapt to the roles, to find a natural way that is the best suitable for you to perform, because this ballet is really special. I am very familiar with the National Ballet of China, I know your professional standards. However, the roles in La Chauve Souris are really complicated, so taking some time to get used to is normal. I want to say, Roland Petit's dance has never been easy, the roles in Le Jeune Homme et La Mort (Young Man and Death), as well as Don Jose in Carmen, those all require the dancers' very delicate controls. Yesterday, I watched your dressing rehearsal, it is already well done. I can only say there are too many details, here and there, where it should be more exaggerated, where little bit more restrained, we still need time to adjust. I believe that through the efforts of the entire team, tomorrow's premiere and the following performances would be getting better and better.


Interviewer & Writer: Zhou Chaoran
Editor: Sun Yuanna
Photographer: Shi Ren


Link to comment
The premiere of the National Ballet of China's annual drama La Chauve Souris made huge success in the evening of September 11th, 2014. This is a highly anticipated full-house show, expected by ballet fans and general audience enthusiastically. The performance by artists of NB of China and world-famous ballet star Manuel Legris won applause from the begin to the end in two hours.

Casting for the premiere opening night:

Bella - Wang QiMin

John - Sun RuiChen

Ulrich - Manuel Legris





Photographer: Wang Chongwei (王崇玮)


Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...