|Sisi Qiu continues her dream of dancing back in her home country after years of training and performing abroad. Her new production (above left and above right) is inspired by her travel to Tibet and will premiere late this year. Qiu and French dancer Cyril Pierre (top right) perform a pas de deux at a New Year's concert in Beijing. (China Daily/Ringo Chen and Xie Mo)|
Her father used the shape of a pyramid to illustrate that ballet is a short-lived career and that very few make it to the top. But Sisi Qiu persevered and proved him wrong. She shares her story with Chen Jie.
At about 6 pm on a Friday in January 2011, Sisi Qiu was waiting outside the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. A few minutes later, Zubin Mehta came out to hug her and took her into the green room, which has a piano, a sofa and a desk covered by scores by Verdi and Mahler. On the walls were slips of paper including one that reminded Mehta that it was his grandson's birthday that day. The maestro was preparing to take the orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino to tour China. In addition to performing, Mehta would also launch his autobiography, The Score of My Life. Qiu is the translator of the Chinese edition. But Qiu is not a professional translator or a writer. She is a ballerina. Qiu danced with Bavarian State Ballet between 2003 and 2007 when Mehta was music director of the Bavarian State Orchestra.
And when Mehta's autobiography was published in 2006, a Europe-based Chinese newspaper commissioned Qiu to interview the maestro. Naturally, when Mehta decided to publish the book in China, Qiu came to mind.
Fast forward to two years later, Mehta returned to China with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to give the New Year concert at the Great Hall of the People on Dec 31, 2012, and by then, the second edition of his autobiography was ready to meet fans in China.
He also invited Qiu to dance at the concert with French dancer Cyril Pierre. The duo performed a pas de deux to Johann Strauss' Voices of Spring during the second half.
The encore composition is the Chinese piece Good News Travels from Beijing to Remote Villages. In a red dress, Qiu interpreted the Chinese celebratory tunes on her toes.
Qiu, 26, has been dancing since she was 8. After she saw part of the ballet Swan Lake on TV, she asked her mother to send her for dance classes.
"I guess every little girl dreams of becoming a white swan," Qiu says.
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