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Young Ballet Dancer on a Big Stage

29 October 2014

One of our Year 6 students, Freyha Khogali, has recently performed with the Canadian Royal Winnipeg Ballet here in Shanghai. She tells us about her experience dancing with Canada's oldest ballet company.

  • Student from the British International School Shanghai, Puxi, dances with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Photos from Freyha's time with the RWB and André Lewis wishes BISS Puxi happy birthday!

This month Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) performed William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Daning theatre as part of Shanghai’s International Arts Festival.  They invited some students from the Ting Ballet School to have roles in this catastrophic love story. I am a pupil in this ballet school and was fortunate to be able to perform and dance alongside experienced dancers in the touching ballet on the 18th and 19th of October.

My experience began on the Friday before when the much valued and talented André Lewis arrived at the Ting Ballet School to teach us the choreography of the children’s parts; he was accompanied by Zhangwei-qiang, Lord Capulet in the ballet. With a few confusions my peers and I grasped the easy but important steps and were rewarded after with a chocolate mousse cake that was not that delicious!

On Saturday I arrived at the ballet school ecstatic as the performance was drawing near. We boarded a bus that was to take us to the theatre and arrived safely a half hour later when we reviewed the steps with André. Next we had our costumes fitted and to my dismay I was not going to be wearing a dress but trousers!

Our first dress rehearsal followed. Everything went well, my fellow pupils and I had many conversations with the dancers backstage.  We learnt much about their experiences as professional ballet dancers and touring with a dance company. Adding to that, much to my elation, we had a lengthy conversation with Elizabeth Lamont, who was to dance as Juliet on Sunday. In what felt like minutes it was time for the performance and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. However, there were no catastrophic occurrences in the show as there are in the story and the children were protected in the fighting scenes as there were real swords used.

I arrived home that night exhausted, though Sophia and Liang, Saturday’s Romeo and Juliette, were probably even more tired.

We went through the same routine again on Sunday although we did not do a rehearsal. We had our makeup put on, smudges of dark stage paint, as we were street children. We made our way downstairs and did our best and received the call of ‘encore, encore’ much to our joy. It was Elizabeth and Dmitri (the principal dancers) who received the bouquets. Backstage, Elizabeth emptied her pink bouquet to share amongst us and I was proud to receive such a brilliant dancer’s rose.

It was a wonderful experience to have and I am glad I was given the privilege of sharing the stage with professional dancers. I shall never forget my weekend with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet.         

- Freyha Khogali, 6S