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Legendary dancer Chen Ailian still a queen

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-22 07:47

Legendary dancer Chen Ailian still a queen

Dancer-choreographer Chen Ailian has been active on stage since the 1950s. Her latest performance is the dance drama Dream of the Red Chamber. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Legendary Chinese dancer-choreographer Chen Ailian is showing no sign of slowing down even as she approaches 80. Chen Nan reports.

After two hours of working on her makeup and costumes and several phone calls, Chen Ailian walks out of her room. A glimpse of the dance floor angers her because she notices some footprints. "Ready to start? Let's start!" she says in a firm voice after the floor is wiped clean. Standing in the middle of the stage in front of a camera, the legendary Chinese dancer-choreographer, who is 78, shows no sign of slowing down.

Over Sept 14-16, she did three nights of performances to celebrate her career spanning 65 years.

She played the role of Lin Daiyu, a teenage heroine in the dance drama Dream of the Red Chamber, which is based on a novel of the same title written by Cao Xueqin during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

"I have played many female roles but I decided on the classic female role Lin Daiyu for this special occasion," says Chen.

"Since the novel has been adapted into different art forms, audiences are familiar with Lin, who is depicted as soft, fragile and tearful. But in my portrayal, I wanted to show Lin as dynamic, clever and beautiful."

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