Jin Yao, principal dancer of the Hong Kong Ballet, is ready to make her grand jete on the prestigious stage that is Jacob's Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts. The annual dance festival, she says, is where many dancers dream of performing, and the 32-year-old is looking forward to dancing before an international - and notably picky - audience. After all, that is one of the reasons why she left the mainland for Hong Kong in 2004 - so she could find a 'bigger world' in dance. Jin says ballet productions, especially on the mainland, have to cater to local tastes so 'during my time [with] the National Ballet of China, I was dancing Red Detachment of Women and Raise the Red Lantern a lot'. Popularly known as the ballet performed for US president Richard Nixon on his historic visit to China in 1972, Red Detachment of Women is often described as a 'red ballet' because its story glorifies the Communist Party. 'Hong Kong has given me a second life artistically,' Jin says. 'It was ... a revelation - the world is so big.' The Jilin-born dancer began formal ballet lessons at the age of nine, graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy, and joined the National Ballet of China in 1997. During her time with the troupe, she won numerous awards and was promoted to principal dancer in 2003. However, it is with the Hong Kong Ballet that Jin has been learning, and enjoying, a more diverse and international repertoire. In exploring a greater range of styles and Western masterpieces, the dancer says she has danced longer than she expected. 'I was already 24 when I left. I thought I was just going to dance for a few more years,' she recalls. Jin - who will perform two works at the Jacob's Pillow Festival - Luminous and Symphony in Three Movements - also enjoys working with dancers from different backgrounds. 'Hong Kong Ballet has an interesting mix of Western and Chinese dancers. There are a lot of things that we can learn from each other,' the dancer says.