Opening Night and National Day in Beijing


Last night as our technical rehearsals of Swan Lake ended, the dancers, crew, and staff headed back to the hotel since we were advised not to travel in the city; much of which had been locked down in preparations for today’s big military parade.

Today is October 1st, National Day in China and the Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, as well as the opening night of San Francisco Ballet’s historic tour to Beijing.

This morning, bright and early, sun shining, all eyes and ears were glued to CCTV (the state television station) where live coverage of the parade was being shown throughout China. More than a million volunteers wearing yellow shirts lined the streets. After breakfast, I headed across the street from the hotel to the Poly Theatre for Company class. Helgi Tomasson was teaching Company class this morning, and I noticed that there was a low rumbling sound coming from the streets. Just as I was walking toward the stage door to go outside to have a look, Debra Bernard, our General Manager, called me on my cell phone to say that she was stuck across the street with several of our dancers, all of whom were unable to get to the theatre, as large blue and white and green camouflage military tanks were parading up the street. The security guards of the Poly Theatre also took time to stop working to go outside and watch the historic events happening outside. An awesome sight indeed!

Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A shot of the parade in Beijing (photo by Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Back inside at the Poly Theatre, Company class continued. Our dress rehearsal for the mixed-repertory program went well, and everyone managed to be where they needed to be, despite Beijing being closed down.

Before the performance tonight, there was a dinner in the Swissotel for our China Tour Sponsors, Trustees, VIP’s from San Francisco, and special friends. The dinner was a lovely Chinese banquet, complete with a large-scale Chinese dragon carved out of ice on display for our guests. Italian-born Food and Beverage Director of the Swissotel, Mr. Gianmaria Azzoni outdid himself and created a truly memorable evening of food and drink.

The opening night performance of the mixed-repertory program went beautifully. Our fantastic dancers, once again wowed the audience with their brilliant artistry! As an added bonus, I got to go onstage at the end of Distant Cries and hand a bouquet of flowers to Principal Dancer and Shanghai-native Yuan Yuan Tan. A real treat for me!

While the audience inside the Poly Theatre reveled in the delight of our amazing dancers, the city outside enjoyed a thunderous spectacle of fireworks shot off from historic Tian’anmen Square that illuminated the Beijing night sky.

Fireworks over Tian'anmen Square in Beijing (Xinhua/Liu Yu)

Fireworks over Tian'anmen Square in Beijing (photo by Xinhua/Liu Yu)

Look out Beijing! San Francisco Ballet is in the house!!

Ciao, Robert

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One Comment

  1. avatar Gianmaria Azzoni
    Posted December 15, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the memorable time in Beijing!


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