Meet new corps de ballet dancer Jiyan Dai

Aug 24, 2012 in Blog Posts

Jiyan Dai

Hometown: Shen Yang, China

How did you start dancing?
When I was young I was very skinny and didn't eat a lot. My mom was worried about this and wanted me to be healthier and eat more, so first she tried soccer and Kung Fu but I wasn't interested and it didn't help. Then her friend suggested dance, and after a couple weeks I was eating so much and getting much healthier. And that’s when I started dancing.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional dancer?
When I was ten I started to go to the professional ballet boarding school, The Shen Yang Dance Academy. I knew then that I was on my way to being a professional dancer.

What has been the highlight of your dance career?
The highlight of my dance career so far was definitely when I danced the part of Lensky in John Cranko's Onegin. The combination of beautiful music and the amazing choreography was so inspiring to me as a dancer. And also, I really loved this character because he is so passionate about his love for Olga he is willing to die for her, and his personality is close to my own and someone I could relate to. He is very dynamic, in the beginning of the ballet you see how sweet and loving he is for Olga, and then later in Act 2 you see his fire when he challenges his own friend to a fight to the death because of the honor of his woman. The whole story is so real and so moving it was once in a lifetime experience for me.

What is your favorite role?
My favorite role is Basil in Don Quixote. I learned and rehearsed this part in the full ballet as part of my college education at the Beijing Dance Academy in China. Since then, I have always dreamed of performing this role. In my graduation performance from college, I had the chance to perform the Grand Pas de Deux, from the ballet. It was one of the three pas de deuxs I danced that night, and was my favorite to perform.

What are you most excited about now that you are coming to Tulsa Ballet?
I am so excited to move to America, it has always been my dream to dance in America. But coming to Tulsa Ballet I am especially looking forward to learning and performing a diverse repertoire with both contemporary and classical ballet, and also to be in a company with people from all over the world. I hope this experience will help me grow as an artist, and I know it will inspire me.

What do you think Oklahoma will be like?
I think Oklahoma will be a big change for me coming from such a big cities like Seoul and Beijing. When I visited for the audition I felt so free because there is so much space. In Asia everyone lives in small apartments and its very crowded and you feel sometimes like you can’t have any peace and quiet because someone is always close to you. I am looking forward to having space.

What ballet are you most looking forward to this season?
I love watching American horror movies, and I am really excited to celebrate Halloween because we don't have that holiday in Asia so I am definitely most excited to perform Ben Stevenson's Dracula!