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Chinese Ballet Debuts in Binghamton

February 24, 1986

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Chinese ballet, which pays as much attention to colorful costumes and elaborate scenery as it does to pointed toes and graceful moves, made its North American debut Sunday.

Gov. Mario Cuomo and Han Xu, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, were among the 1,200-member audience who watched the Central Ballet Company of China blend folk dancing with classical ballet in the first of two performances here.

China’s national ballet troupe, based in Peking, was founded in 1959. Artistic director Li Chengxiang has described it as ″a company that’s dancing with the urgency and desire of a group trying to catch up.″

The 11-city U.S. tour is sponsored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which began making the arrangements two years ago. Sunday’s performance was the highlight of the gala opening of the $13.5 million Floyd E. Anderson Center at the State University of New York.

State Sen. Warren Anderson greeted the Chinese in their native tongue.

″I’m sure they (the Chinese dancers) are all back there laughing, but what I was trying to say was welcome,″ said Anderson.

The company opened its performance with the second half of a Chinese ballet, ″The New Year’s Sacrifice,″ which tells the story of a widow sold into marriage and her attempted suicide.

Traditional pirouettes and plies were accompanied by gymnastic leaps and spins.

The troupe also performed another Chinese ballet, ″The Demon And the Mermaid,″ and two traditional pieces, ″Variations for Four″ and the second act of ″Swan Lake.″

The program was delayed 30 minutes because of a demonstration by about 300 SUNY students and a handful of professors protesting proposed budget cuts and stalled teacher contract talks.

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