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Dai Ailian, dancer, choreographer and director: born ; died Beijing 9 February 2006.
Dai Ailian was widely regarded in China as "the mother of Chinese ballet".
Western ballet was reintroduced and the Central Ballet of China has now toured widely abroad, scoring great success in London.
Dai continued her researches into Chinese folk dance forms.
"Ballet is my work," she said, "while folk dance is my greatest pleasure." As such her legacy is twofold: she brought Western ballet to China and Chinese folk dance to the wider world.
In 1989 she was the founder director of the London-based Chinese Dance & Mime Theatre Company.
Gradually, though, it dawned on the political powers that ballet could in fact be a vehicle for promoting ideological correctness and national pride.
Choreographers had already started combining Western ballet technique with Chinese themes and skills, resulting in such signature works as The Red Detachment of Women and (staged by the Shanghai dancers) The White-Haired Girl, both choreographed in 1964, under the personal supervision of Mao Zedong's wife, emblems respectively of Chinese Communism and folklore.
Under the guidance of the famous Russian ballet master Pyotr Gusev, the Beijing students made their début in 1959 as ballet swans.In 1962 the company made its first appearance outside China, performing in Burma, and in 1964 the British ballerina Beryl Grey arrived to work with the company.During these early years the academy and company concentrated on traditional Western ballet.This emphasis, though, earned it disapproval when the Cultural Revolution was launched in 1966.Ballet found itself classified as "the weed of capitalism" and the academy was closed for six years, until 1973.