Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GROW UP AND TRAIN IN CHINA?
A: When I was growing up in Qingdao, China, I didn’t know anything about ballet. My parents sent me to dance school once a week because they wanted me to have better posture. At that time it was basically just stretching and not much dancing. From there I went to Qingdao Arts School and then I was accepted to Beijing Dance Academy. This is where I started my professional ballet training. BDA is a boarding school so I left my parents to go to Beijing when I was 11 years old. It was hard in the beginning to be on my own but soon I was used to it. We had ballet classes and academic classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday and then two hours in the evening, switching between ballet and homework. We had half days on Saturdays. It was a busy schedule but six years felt like it went by very fast.
Q: WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE AND WORK WITH YOUR SPOUSE?
A: You definitely spend all your time together, which I enjoy. But I think the biggest benefit is that we have an understanding of each other’s profession. We know what it is like to be a dancer and how demanding the career is. We can bring work home, if needed, to figure things out that we couldn’t in the studio, and we are always there for each other.
Q: YOU WORKED WITH DEVON CARNEY AT CINCINNATI BALLET. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE THE MOVE TO KC?
A: I was with Cincinnati Ballet for six years and my wife for eight years. We felt that we needed a change. We both had a great experience working with Devon in Cincinnati, so we decided to come to Kansas City Ballet.
Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR FAVORITE LEADING ROLES AND WHY?
A: I have really enjoyed dancing roles that have a story to tell like Albrecht in Giselle, Siegfried in Swan Lake. Because It’s not just about the technique, you need to be able to express your feelings and connect to the audience. I didn’t feel comfortable acting on stage when I was young, but I really enjoying doing it now. I find it challenging but rewarding.
Q: WHAT IS SOMETHING GOOD YOU’VE DISCOVERED BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC?
A: In my opinion, I think it’s adapting. We are all adapting to a new way of working and learning how to continue living our lives. For example, we are now creating dance films. When you can’t have live performances, it doesn’t mean you have to stop creating. Though nothing can compare to a live performance, especially for dancers. That is what we live for.
Q: WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
A: I have a dog named Kobe. We named him after Kobe Bryant who is a huge inspiration for me. We spoil him as much as we can because, why not! I think dogs are the best and they deserve everything!
Also, my wife started a mural project last summer. The idea was to bring dance and murals together to continue creating art through the pandemic. I’m her photographer on the project, which I really enjoy. You can check out her page dancing_with_murals on Facebook and Instagram.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT KANSAS CITY?
A: Of course when I first moved here everyone was saying it has the best BBQ. There are so many BBQ options here but my favorite one is Joe’s. I like the Chiefs and it’s so great to see the whole city cheering for them. I love our home theater, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It is one of the coolest theaters in the world. I like that Kansas City is affordable to live. We bought our house here in 2015 and we love to come home everyday after work.