Ballet takes a great leap forward in China
BALLET studios are experiencing a growing wave of popularity in China, as an increasing number of both adults and children are discovering the benefits of classical dance.
Ballet teacher Adriana Wang, who has been teaching ballet for 20 years in public and private schools in China, points out that classes have been popping up across the country lately.
"There are ballet lessons in all the club houses in almost every compound across China, and most of them taught unprofessionally, for fun or as an after-school activity," she said.
The boom is seen as a reflection of the nation's rising disposable income.
"Increased discretionary spending that promotes both physical and emotional well-being is expected to take the lead in the near future in the leisure and entertainment market," said Laurel Gu, an analyst at market research firm Mintel China.
However, given that it is a recent phenomenon, there are no official statistics to determine the number of ballet studios in the country.
Britain-based premium dance floor provider Harlequin Floors has profited from the recent growth of amateur dance studios.
"Over last five years, sales in China have increased from 15 per cent to 32 per cent," said Annie Shek, its marketing manager.
Morning Star, one of the largest private ballet studios in the capital, opened in October 2014 to meet the higher demand for lessons from both children and adults.
"When we first opened two years ago, we had only a dozen students," said Emma Wang, its director and a former dancer of China's National Ballet.
"Nowadays, we have more than 100 students (including children and adults) and our four studios are always full.
"Parents appreciate the musicality of ballet and the discipline that it promotes," added Ms Wang.
Another draw is the affordability of classes. The average cost of an hour's workout is 200 yuan (S$40).
More ballet studios in China are also offering preparation courses for the Royal Academy of Dance in Britain (RAD) examination, a certificate that grants students bonus points when applying to enter a university in Britain.
This year, around 2,000 students took the RAD exam in Beijing and another 6,000 in Shanghai, said Ms Wang.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK