Thu, May 02, 2019 - Page 13 News List

Stars descend on Taipei

One world, three Taiwan and four Asian premieres are on the program this weekend for Wang Tzer-shing’s annual international ballet star gala at the National Theater

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Royal Ballet principal Marianela Nunez returns to Taiwan to perform at the 13th International Ballet Star Gala in Taipei at the National Theater on Saturday and Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Villamayor

Wang Tzer-shing (王澤馨) knows that to draw an audience for the annual ballet galas her company produces in Taipei, she has to beat the competition: her previous shows.

Art Wave’s galas draw people from all over Taiwan, as well as Japan, South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, and with each show, the bar is raised higher for the following year, both in terms of the caliber of the performers and the pieces that they bring.

The program for the 13th International Ballet Star Gala in Taipei (2019第十三屆 國際芭蕾舞星在台北) at the National Theater on Saturday and Sunday promises to do just that, with one world premiere, three Taiwan premieres and four Asian premieres.

These include works by modern masters such as David Dawson (excerpts from The World According To Us and The Four Seasons), Goyo Montero (the solo Come Again), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Remember Me), Alexei Ratmansky and Uwe Schulz (Sonata Pas de Deux).

The program also includes a mix of famous pas de duex from 19th century romantic ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadere and Don Quixote, as well as 20th century classics such John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew and George Balanchine’s Jewels, plus one from Ratmansky’s 2002 production of Cinderella.

And while Le Corsaire Pas De Deux is a staple of ballet galas worldwide, including previous productions in Taipei, the Le Corsaire Pas D’esclave that Igor Kolb and Evgenia Obraztsova will perform is perhaps less well known.

The line-up is almost evenly divided between familiar names — Kolb from the Mariinsky Theatre, Obraztsova from the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet’s Marianela Nunez and Laurretta Summerscales and Yonah Acosta from the Bayerisches Staatsballett — and new faces: Artemy Belyakov from the Bolshoi, Daniel Camargo of the Dutch National Ballet, Matt Foley from the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Courtney Richardson and Jon Vallejo from the Dresden Semperoper Ballett and US freelance guest artist Drew Jacoby.

Performance Notes

WHAT: 13th International Ballet Star Gala in Taipei

WHEN: Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm

WHERE: National Theater, 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

ADMISSION: NT$1,200 to NT$4,800, available at NTCH box offices, online at and at convenience store ticket kiosks

In an interview with Wang on Friday last week, I asked what she was looking forward to seeing.

The Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, better known as the Rubies excerpt from Balanchine’s full-length ballet Jewels, which will be danced by Summerscales and Acosta was one, she said.

Another is the excerpts from Dawson’s Four Seasons, which premiered last year.

“I am so thankful to David, he’s been so supportive of us,” she said, “This year a solo and pas de deux by two dancers from Dresden; David has a long relationship with the company.”

Wang said that Jacoby originally wanted to do two solos by other choreographers, but was convinced to do her own piece, Left Hand, as well as Cherkaoui’s duet.

Most of all, she said, she was so grateful to the dancers, who were willing to make the long trip to Taiwan for just two or three days.

“The ones who have been here before, they like Taiwan, the people are friendly, we treat them well. It’s a nice break from their companies,” she said. “They are like a big ballet family, they look forward to seeing the other dancers again.”

“This time the schedule is so tight, but at least the Russians no longer have to get visas,” she added.

Wang said that she uses WhatsApp to stay in touch.

“First thing I do when I wake up is grab my phone to see if there are any messages,” she said.

Her concern is warranted, as some previous galas have turned into logistical nightmares, with missed flights, or worse, injuries that require replacements to be found, and fast. It is not even the dancers who are going to be on the program that she has to worry about, but their colleagues at their companies as well, because they might be told by the company that they cannot take leave to go to Taipei as they are needed to fill in for someone else in a performance.

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