Mistress Tang Min is responsible for the level of competence of the dancers in Hong Kong Ballet (HKB).
The Hong Kong Ballet (香港芭蕾舞團) is a classical ballet company founded in 1979. Mistress Tang Min is in charge with teaching the daily company ballet class.
Interview by Dominique Musorrafiti
This is a selected interview from
Planet China Vol. 02 issue
celebrating International Women’s Day 2018
China Underground: When did you realize that your artistic path would be dance? At what age did you start your training?
Tang Min: My career in dance is a coincidence. I started professional ballet training at 10 years old. During that era, pupils at regular schools were being selected by professional ballet teachers when they visited.
C U: What were the moments fundamental to your dance training?
T M: I believe that your personal condition and hard work are the major criteria. From my point of view, I feel that understanding dance and innate talent are both important. Dancing is not just body movements, but also familiarity with music, on-stage performance and body coordination, etc.
Tang MIN, before joining Hong Kong Ballet as Ballet Mistress in 2009 as the same post in Guangzhou Ballet for four years
C U: What were the major problems and difficulties you have encountered? What are the greatest sacrifices you made in the name of dance?
T M: I think the major issues are how you tackle personal weakness. I would keep improving my artistic insights to make myself become perfect on stage. I am not treating developing a career in my favourite profession as a sacrifice, but I did have to leave my family for training when I was 10.
C U: How did you feel to dance with the National Ballet of China as Principal Dancer from 1979 to 1988?
T M: Fortunately, we were the first generation to graduate after the Cultural Revolution. I became a Principal Dancer at The National Ballet of China when I was 17 years old. At that time, I encountered various opportunities, including participating in international ballet competitions three times. Coached by my teachers, I achieved prizes and build up concrete fundamentals for my profession.
Ballet Mistress Tang MIN won the silver medals at the Osaka International Ballet Competition in 1984 and the Varna International Ballet Competition in 1986
C U: Can you tell us about your experience as Principal Dancer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre? What about your experience in ballet before joining Hong Kong Ballet as Ballet Mistress?
T M: I left China in 1988 and started to develop my career in the United States and Canada, playing lead roles at various companies. I had the chance to collaborate with different choreographers, company directors and dancers of many nationalities. Participating in different kinds of repertoire enriched my experience, as I had never experienced that in China at that time.
C U: How much has ballet changed since you graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy to date?
T M: Fundamental training has become more scientific and exact. Dance styles have become free from any one style, and there are many more styles now.
Tang was part also of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Fort Worth Dallas Ballet.
C U: From dancer to Ballet Mistress, what are the main responsibilities of each?
What did you have to develop in order to become a good Ballet Mistress?
T M: As a ballerina, all you need to do is concentrate and do your best. As a ballet mistress, you need to completely manage the rehearsal studio, understand each dancer’s positions and postures, connect with the music and monitor the entire rehearsal process. You also need excellent insight, good communication skills and a sincere heart to be a good teacher.
C U: For your experience, what are the main differences between ballet in Asia and abroad?
T M: Ballet is an international art form, with its own language for expressing the same emotions and feelings. The only difference is that each country has its own characteristic repertoires.
Photo courtesy of Tang Min