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Venezuelan ballerina recalls her trip to China


07-25-2014 00:26 BJT

You may be familiar with Venezuela for its food and its football team. But many older Chinese people know the country for a dance piece, presented by prima ballerina Yolanda Moreno. The ballerina and her dance troupe toured China in the early 1980s, giving Chinese audiences a taste of the fiery dance tradition of her home country.

Yolanda Moreno is a household name in Venezuela. She started dancing when she was 13, and her talent was soon recognised. She quickly became an international star and later became a choreographer as well.

Together with her husband, she created a folk dance troupe in 1962, aiming to reinvigorate public interest in Venezuelan dance and folklore. She's also served as a cultural ambassador, bringing the country's dance to the world. She and her troupe visited China in 1983 for a two-month long tour throughout the country.

"That was an experience not to forget. We had worried about language and cultural barriers, afraid that our enthusiastic dance routines would not be accepted by conservative Chinese people. But they responded to us very enthusiastically. We were so excited to win the hearts of Chinese audience," said Yolanda Moreno, Venezuelan dancer.

Immense success in China triggered more trips to other countries, where the troupe was also very well received. Yolanda says her role in that period was not different than a diplomat. And she was also surprised to find similarities between two countries' cultures.

"It seems that the two cultures have nothing to do with each other, considering the distance. When we performed a dance called 'A Caracas Girl On Donkey', using a donkey model, a Chinese music teacher came to us saying China has a similar dance. When I saw that dance, I was so surprised," Yolanda said.

Now in her eighties, Yolanda has retired from the stage, but is still active teaching at a dance school she runs. Although she has never returned China to perform, that experience 31 years ago has left an indelible mark on her life. She still drinks Chinese tea, for example, and can still remember the melody of the Chinese folk song "Honghu Lake".

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