Interview with English National Ballet’s She Said Choreographer Yabin Wang

English National Ballet's Precious Adams - Photo Perry Curties, Art Direction and Design Charlotte Wilkinson Studio

The world needs more female choreographers. We need to see and feel their perspective, their interpretations, hear their voices and watch how they make their dancers move.

That’s why She Said is such an important platform created by the inspiring and innovative Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet’s artistic director and principal dancer.

In creating She Said, Tamara Rojo sought three astounding  choreographers from three continents including Aszure Barton, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Yabin Wang.

Tamara selected the award winning dancer and choreographer Yabin Wang for her unique dance background and beautiful works. On the eve of the premiere, The Wonderful World of Dance asks Yabin Wang about She Said:

English National Ballet’s She Said celebrates female choreographers, what does it mean to you to be part of this new platform?

This means a lot to me because this triple bill is an opportunity to have works from choreographers from three continents to demonstrate how they interpret “She Said”, and how female choreographers from different cultures can unite in this platform. It’s going to be exciting to see the result!

Your piece for She Said brings the Greek heroine Medea into classical China, what’s your inspiration and the message you want to convey?

Medea is a story that is familiar to people, but what they might not be familiar with is a contemporary dance interpretation of this story. It’s more than technique, but it’s the message and philosophy of the story that I want to bring out in the dance, while portraying the themes of love, hate, revenge, and the karma of the ultimate tragedy. The question I keep asking myself is “what if not?”, it’s going to be interesting to see people’s interpretation of the dance when they watch.

English National Ballet's Jeanette Kakareka - photo Perry Curties, Art Direction and Design Charlotte Wilkinson Studio
English National Ballet’s Jeanette Kakareka – Photo Perry Curties, Art Direction and Design Charlotte Wilkinson Studio

English National Ballet is a world renowned company, what has been your experience working with the dancers?

It’s been a great experience for me, working with such excellent and hard-working dancers. I feel very honoured and humbled to be given this opportunity by Tamara Rojo.

Throughout your career you have won numerous dance awards and danced around the world, what inspired you to create your own studio and platform Yabin & Her Friends?

It was my dream to dance, and to create work that I love! There are many opportunities around, but you need a platform to focus on the work you want to create. Yabin & Her Friends gives me the opportunity to do this, and to work with some of the best dance artists from around the world.

In the past seven years I’ve seen over 120 dancers, over a dozen choreographers, composers and artists work with the company. And we have produced three productions, Genesis choreographed by Sidi Larbi Chekaoui, Dream in Three Episodes that featured my own choreography alongside that of other artists, and Moon Opera which I choreographed.

English National Ballet's Jia Zhang - Photo Perry Curties, Art Direction and Design Charlotte Wilkinson Studio
English National Ballet’s Jia Zhang – Photo Perry Curties, Art Direction and Design Charlotte Wilkinson Studio

Growing up in China you trained in ballet, contemporary dance and classical Chinese dance, how has this influenced your dance and choreographic style?

Each discipline not only gives me access to different choreographic language, technique, and vocabulary, but different thinking behind it. That is magnificent! The more you learn, the more freedom you get when creating work.

As a celebrated Chinese dancer, what inspired you to become a choreographer?

I think it’s a natural evolution. You dance when you can express yourself by using your body. When you want to start expressing yourself through dance works, you begin to choreograph. I believe it’s very good to do both, and that’s what I’m doing now.  

Yabin Wang - Photo Koen Broos
Yabin Wang – Photo Koen Broos

How do you approach choreographing new works?

I watch, I think, and I absorb artists that I feel inspired by and artists that I think can contribute well to the work I am creating, be it dancers, choreographers, composers, musicians, costume, or set designers.

You established Yabin & Her Friends seven years ago, what is your vision for the future?

There is no question that I will continue doing what I do for as long as I can. I want Yabin & Her Friends to be a platform for the best talent in dance to work together and create amazing dance, and to work with people from all nationalities, cultures and religions. And for it to be an innovative and inspirational company in contemporary dance. That is my vision.

Who are your greatest inspirations in the dance world?

Choreographers  Pina Bausch, Akram Khan, and Larbi. And dancers Tamara Rojo and Sylvie Guillem.

What advice would you give to other aspiring female choreographers?

You need to have courage. The first time is always difficult, but you need to start somewhere, maybe by creating a solo or a duet, and then work alongside the best choreographers you can find love and learn from them. I have been very lucky in that regard.

Don’t miss this critical triple bill! She Said @ Sadler’s Wells 13 – 16 April, book tickets She Said.