HOUSTON, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- A ballet dance piece choreographed by a Chinese artist was staged Saturday night in Houston, the fourth largest city of the United States.
It is the first time that renowned Houston Ballet has ever invited any Chinese artist to help choreograph a ballet dance. Zhang Disha, dancer and choreographer, works for the 50th anniversary celebration of Houston Ballet: Locally Grown. World Renowned.
Celebrating 50 years of creativity, Houston Ballet has evolved from a company of 16 dancers to one of 61 dancers, making it the country's fifth largest ballet company. Its Center for Dance is a state-of-the-art performance space that opened in April 2011 and remains the largest professional dance facility in America. Houston Ballet's reach is global, touring in renowned theaters worldwide.
Saturday night's performance was the world premiere of Zhang's piece, Elapse. Sixteen professional dancers participated in the 16-minute ballet piece.
With only three weeks of practice, Zhang told Xinhua in an earlier interview that it was the shortest time she had ever had to choreograph a new piece.
"This is the first time for me to work with American ballet and I have only three weeks, 15 days," Zhang said. "It has been quite challenging, but I have a wonderful cooperation with Houston Ballet and its dancers."
The Chinese choreographer also spoke highly of the professionalism of Houston Ballet and its performers. With the help of a translator, Zhang said she didn't encounter any obstacles working with dancers with different backgrounds.
"They are very professional and have high requirements for themselves. I like to interact with dancers and look for sparkles on them," she said, adding Chinese dancing groups could learn from them.
Using traditional Chinese instrument Guqin, the music Zhang chose for Elapse is composed by a musician of Chinese origin. According to Zhang, she tried to express a sense of loss of time and loved ones in the dance.
"I'm confident that everyone will love the music and it is acceptable by all the dancers. Although performed by Chinese instrument Guqin, the music has some contemporary elements in it," she said.
Zhang described working with Houston Ballet as a "coincident" but Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch has certainly noticed her for some time.
"I saw Disha's emotional heart-pounding movement, How Beautiful Is Heaven, years ago in Hamburg and knew we needed to bring her here. It is an honor to be the first American company to present her work," Welch said.
Zhang was born in Guizhou Province in southwestern China and got professional training in Chinese dance when she was young. She graduated with a Modern Dance Choreography degree from the Beijing Dance Academy in 2002. She has received numerous choreography awards in China and internationally. Since 2006, Zhang has choreographed contemporary dances for Chinese ballet dancers to compete at international ballet competitions.
Working with ballet dancers for years, Zhang has witnessed the fast development of ballet dancing in China.
"Ballet is developing rapidly in China. More and more people are in love with ballet," she said, adding the exchanges and collaboration between Chinese and foreign dancing groups are beneficial to the growth of Chinese dancers.
"Art has no borders and is international," Zhang added, wishing more collaborations to be made between Chinese and American dancing groups.