Wed, Jul 24, 2019 - Page 13 News List

A dancer’s journey

The lack of opportunities at home leads many ballet dancers overseas, a path that George Liang has followed

By David Mead  /  Contributing reporter


After graduating in New Zealand, Liang took up an apprentice dancer position with the National Ballet of Canada, something of a dream company for him ever since he had performed with them as a child in The Nutcracker. Canada was fabulous, he says but the reality is that there are simply not enough vacancies for every apprentice to get a full contract with the company. However, an application and a video later, and he was offered a contract by Northern Ballet.

Leeds, an industrial city, is a very long way from Taipei, and very different. Yet, it really does feel like a home.

“In its way, it’s beautiful. It’s hard to explain but there’s something about the place. The move here is working out great,” Liang says.

It’s working out fine on stage too. Northern Ballet perform around 24 weeks each year, touring all over the UK, with up to seven performances each of those weeks. That means there’s a lot of opportunities to perform. This year, Liang has danced in The Nutcracker, the historical drama, Victoria, and in The Great Gatsby, where he played a shy boy among other characters, “A role I can really relate to. There’s always a lot to do but it can be hard and people do get stressed.”

On top of that are around 80 performances annually of children’s ballets. This spring was made even crazier than usual for Liang when he had to learn several roles in a new production of Puss in Boots, alongside other rehearsals.

“The ballet is quite jazzy, and while it’s really for kids, who absolutely love it, there is lots in it for adults too,” he says.

“Taiwan doesn’t have this kind of ballet. We have just a few dancers and sets that are easy to shift. We do two or three shows through the day at each venue, then move on to the next city. This sort of show is really important because it introduces youngsters to ballet in a friendly, welcoming, accessible way; often their parents too. It gets them in the theater. And it’s cheap!” he says.

The dream now is of bigger roles. Liang may be busy but still gets back to Taiwan every summer. Generous with his time, he does a little teaching, including back at this former schools, where who knows, he might just inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

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