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  • The Royal Ballet’s 2014 tour: Stop #3 – China

The Royal Ballet’s 2014 tour: Stop #3 – China

First Artist Nathalie Harrison on negotiating Shanghai, performing Dulcinea in Don Quixote and cutting the Taglioni cake.

By Nathalie Harrison (Royal Ballet First Artist)

11 July 2014 at 4.45pm | 1 Comment

Arriving in China, we are launched straight into the vast metropolis of Shanghai – a sea of cloud-piercing skyscrapers whose peaks dissolve into the muggy sky, and vast traffic systems that spiral into the centre of town. This city certainly isn't shy. Jam-packed and bustling, it is a rich assault on the senses and has a totally different vibe to Taipei. For one, lots of things seem negotiable in China, from the price of a handbag, to the exact ingredients of your dinner, to whether a traffic light is green or red! Indoor motor vehicles could also be the norm – on my first day in the theatre, which is all sparkly from a fantastic refurb, an employee cruises past me on a scooter in the corridor. I can’t imagine it taking off at the ROH!

We last came here six years ago as part of a much longer eastern tour; we spent four days performing Manon, before flying off bound for Japan. This time, we are performing Carlos’s Don Quixote. It’s a new production and opened the Season with a bang - it’s nice to finish in the same way. It is such a new work that it has barely settled on the company and hasn’t ever toured, so it is a little bit of an unknown entity. Due to the schedules in other destinations, rehearsals were also less frequent than we would like. The first few run throughs are slow and hard to get everything together. However, our crew works tirelessly to coordinate the complex cues (all via interpreters), which is no easy task, and we rally together to deliver a spectacular end-of-Season show.

Once we are on stage, it starts flowing and, on opening night, all falls into place – a huge relief! So, with the last production up and running, we suddenly find ourselves creeping towards the end of the Season. Due to a few cast changes, I get the chance to perform Dulcinea and I am thrilled. Don Quixote is such a joyous ballet with the full Company on stage. The audiences in China are also very well informed about the demands of virtuosity and applaud throughout the tricky solos, which makes me think that it really is the perfect production to have brought!

The last scene of the ballet has the full Company on stage in a big coda, and it really feels like a grand goodbye, waving 'adios' to this Season. As the curtain falls, we feel a mixture of achievement, relief and happiness, muddled with goodbyes and sadness that it's over. Another Season - it's a wrap! Spirits are high, and we celebrate the careers of the leavers over the traditional Taglioni cake-cutting ceremony, followed by, you've guessed it, yet more dancing! There is certainly no need for sleeping aids on the long flight home; everyone relaxes into a peaceful slumber.

A happy and hard working tour comes to a lovely end. Now for a rest and a re-charge before the next Season starts!

Read Nathalie’s earlier blogs from Taiwan and Russia.

Read Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare's blog about the tour.

The Royal Opera House would like to thank Aud Jebsen for her support of the Royal Ballet touring programme, corporate sponsors Vitol, Coutts and the Tsukanov Family Foundation for their support in Moscow and Alta Advisors in Shanghai, and all tour supporters: Geoffrey & Judith Batchelar, Linda and Tania Bennett, Jill Bowen, Janine Roxborough Bunce, Fiona, Lucinda and Annabel Cruddas, Graham Fletcher, Lady Shauna Gosling, Geoffrey Griffiths, Nigel Grimshaw, David & Diana Pilling, Lady Barbara Pitman, Kristina & Isabella Rogge and Eric Tomsett.

By Nathalie Harrison (Royal Ballet First Artist)

11 July 2014 at 4.45pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged 2014, Ballet, Dancers, diary, Don Quixote, Season finale, Shanghai, The Royal Ballet, tour

This article has 1 comment

  1. PAULINE MARSHALL responded on 19 July 2014 at 6:14pm Reply

    Lovely to hear from one of the dancers about their tour. I don't know how she had the time. Don Quixote is a favourite of mine - thanks to Carlos for producing it and bringing it to the ROH. I think it would make a great impact on any first time visiter to Ballet at the ROH.
    PVM

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