First Chinese join Bolshoi training

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am

Three Academy for Performing Arts students have been selected to be the first Chinese people to join the renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia this autumn.

But to raise the standard of performing arts amid the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong needs a performing arts high school, teachers say.

The three students selected from a group of 40 were Hongkonger Emily Pak Ho-yi, 18; Yuan Shang-jen, 23, from Taiwan; and Zhu Xiaolin, 19, from Beijing. They will spend four months studying in Russia from this September.

Marina Leonova, director of the Bolshoi academy, hand-picked the students after watching them in class and rehearsals. She said the selection was based on the students' potential, approach to dance and musical skill.

The students will take classes designed for them, and classes with local and international students.

Their training will include classical ballet, traditionally strong in Russia, folk dance, contemporary dance and acting. The three will have to study Russian as well. They are expected to train 18 hours a day, six days a week.

Pak, who has been learning ballet since she was four, said she was nervous about the opportunity. 'The environment and culture are going to be so different, and the training at Bolshoi is very tough,' she said.

Yuan hoped that the training could help him achieve his goal of becoming a professional dancer.

Graeme Collins, the Hong Kong academy's head of ballet, said the city had enough performing arts talent and urged the setting up of a high school for music and dance to develop those with potential.

The winning students' teacher, Stella Lau Yin-ling, said Hong Kong should push for a performing arts high school, especially when Taiwan, Singapore and Macau have such schools.