[Hong Kong – 8 November 2019] Hong Kong Ballet announces that Artistic Director Septime Webre has promoted Chen Zhiyao to Principal Dancer, the highest rank in the Company. Formerly a Soloist, Chen was promoted on the evening on 31 October during the curtain call for China Everbright Ltd. Proudly Presents International Gala of Stars 2019, which celebrated the Company’s 40th anniversary. This well-deserved promotion is another joyous moment during this milestone year for Chen, who just performed the challenging dual role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake the last two weekends to critical acclaim.
“I’m honoured to be recognised by Hong Kong Ballet and Septime,” said Chen. “I never imagined being promoted on stage! I am very excited, and going forward, I’ll continue to work hard. A big thank you to all who have guided and helped me, and I hope more and more people will love Hong Kong Ballet.”
Chen has been with Hong Kong Ballet for four years and has an extensive repertoire. After graduating from Beijing Dance Academy in 2015, she joined the Company as a member of the Corps de Ballet the same year and was promoted to Coryphée in 2017 and Soloist in 2018. During her time with Hong Kong Ballet, she has danced the principal roles of Odette and Odile in John Meehan’s Swan Lake, Ballerina, Egyptian Doll and French Doll in Terence Kohler’s The Nutcracker, Gulnare and Odalesques in Anna-Marie Holmes' Le Corsaire, among others.
Born in Sichuan, China, Chen was twice awarded Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer at the Hong Kong Dance Awards. She won in 2017 for her role as Odette in Swan Lake and in 2019 for playing Alice in ALICE (in wonderland).
Artistic Director Septime Webre enthused, “Zhiyao is remarkable on so many levels—she’s a gifted artist that brings a natural luminosity to the stage. She has impossibly long arms and legs which sing when she dances. She’s a natural storyteller and brilliant actress and also brings a vulnerability and emotionality to her presence on stage. And she has a steely technique which impresses. But all of these things are overshadowed by her dedication to the dailiness of her work. Like a true artist, she comes to the studio each day with a dedication to exploration and excellence.”
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Photo 1: Swan Lake | Dancer: Chen Zhiyao | Photographer: Eric Hong
Photo 1: Swan Lake | Dancer: Chen Zhiyao | Photographer: Eric HongDownload
Photo 2: ALICE (in wonderland) | Dancer: Chen Zhiyao | Photographer: Conrad Dy-Liacco
Photo 2: ALICE (in wonderland) | Dancer: Chen Zhiyao | Photographer: Conrad Dy-LiaccoDownload
Photo 3: The Nutcracker | Dancer (from left): Chen Zhiyao, Chun Wai Chan | Photographer: Conrad Dy-Liacco
Photo 3: The Nutcracker | Dancer (from left): Chen Zhiyao, Chun Wai Chan | Photographer: Conrad Dy-LiaccoDownload
One of Asia’s premier ballet companies, Hong Kong Ballet (HKB) is internationally recognised as a vibrant arts institution that represents Hong Kong’s unique character. Established in 1979 and led by Artistic Director Septime Webre, HKB has a dynamic repertoire performed by nearly 50 dancers from all over the globe and award-winning education and community programmes.
With almost 50 international tours, the Company has won recognition from critics and fans both at home and abroad. Its diverse repertoire includes classic and modern masterpieces, original full-length ballets created for the Company, an interactive ballet series for younger fans and groundbreaking dance by today’s most sought-after choreographers, including Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jiří Kylian, Nacho Duato and Trey McIntyre, among others.
HKB maintains an active schedule of community initiatives throughout Hong Kong to ensure that ballet is accessible to people from all walks of life. The Company is celebrating its 40th Anniversary during the 2019/20 Season.
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