Cupcakes & Conversation with Jin Yao, Principal Dancer of The Hong Kong Ballet

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Jin Yao, Principal Dancer of The Hong Kong Ballet

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Jin Yao

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ? 

My love for ballet and knowing that there are always new and exciting things that await you every day.

Why ballet ?

The beauty of it is irreplaceable in my heart!

What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?

I am looking forward to dancing more interpretative roles – characters that are more mature, with a strong storyline. For example, I like Onegin, La dame aux camélias

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?

I would like to dance with a partner who is as passionate as I am, strong and full of emotions.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?

I would love to dance everywhere, perhaps in romantic places like Greece, or dance along the riverside of Venice!

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?

I first cut the insole and stitch the platform of the pointe shoes, then the elastic and the ribbon, break the pointe shoes so that it won’t hurt my feet.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?

I start my day at around 8am, have a full breakfast, and then it’s dancing all day from 10am-6pm.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?

It has to be a full breakfast followed by a light lunch, something that is low fat & non-oily. I will have a big dinner after work, mainly in traditional steamed/stewed Chinese food. 

ballet dancer in arabesque

Jardin aux Lilas Jin Yao Photographer: Conrad Dy-Liacco © The Hong Kong Ballet

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?

Steve Jobs (too bad he’s not with us), Jennifer Lopez, Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin, Michael Jordan, Liu Chang Le (the boss of Phoenix TV in China)

Who inspired you to dance ?

It’s my family who are also dancers and who inspired me since I was very young.

What is your best piece of advice ?

Follow your heart and be true to yourself.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

I will do the makeup by myself, and also start warming up. It’s also very important for me to stay quiet and calm so my heart and soul are prepared for the performance.

How do you deal with the stress of performing ?

Try to stay calm and quiet before the show and immerse myself with the music and the character.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

I would have to say it’s the role in Theme and Variations by Balanchine. It is so demanding and challenging both technically and physically and it takes a while to reach to that level if you haven’t danced Balanchine for a short while.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?

It would depend on the repertoire, but I would love to add some Chinese elements in it!

What do you look for in a dance partner ?

He has to be charming, musical, strong and professional

What is your favourite quote ?

“Never Give Up”

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?

Grand jeté – I love it!

A phrase I use far too often is … ?


What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?

It has to be dancing with Friedemann Vogel – he guested in our Sleeping Beauty performance last year and it was a fabulous experience.

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?

I think I cook quite well in Chinese food! 

ballet dancers Swan Lake

Swan Lake Jin Yao, Huang Zhen Photographer: Gordon Wong © The Hong Kong Ballet

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?

I hope that there will be more opportunity for me to dance overseas – in guesting and artist exchange with other ballet companies.

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

Definitely my family. They’re living quite remote from me and there’s not much chance that they can watch my performance live.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?

I want to do something for the next generation, set up a ballet school teaching and coaching them.


2 Responses to Cupcakes & Conversation with Jin Yao, Principal Dancer of The Hong Kong Ballet

  1. Val November 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Another great interview! I love the green costume!!! Jin’s favorite quote is one we need to all live by! ~Val

  2. May November 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    A rarity – a principal ballerina with a diet that sounds healthy! And she’s also slim and sleek. Proves you don’t have to starve yourself to look willowy. Excellent favourite quote too.