Corps member dancer, Cincinnati Ballet
Why We Love Her: She left the Shanghai Dance Academy, her family and China for the experience of dancing with the Cincinnati Ballet Company.
Currently in rehearsal for Romeo & Juliet, which opens on Valentine’s Day, Cincinnati Ballet Company corps member Sirui Liu spends most of her days — from about 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. — dancing.
In fact, she’s been dancing for more than a decade. When she was just 10 years old she decided she wanted to enroll in professional ballet school in Shanghai, China. “I saw ballet when I was younger,” she says. “It was so light. It was like flying. It’s so pretty and I said I want to do that.”
And while a dancer’s schedule and lifestyle are grueling, as soon as she gets into the studio, there’s nothing else she’d rather do.
“My parents told me a story,” she says. “When I was younger, they let me go to drawing class, then when they came to pick me up, I disappeared because I went to dance class.”
Her passion for dance has won her many awards, including a gold medal in a recent national ballet competition in China and a coveted spot with the Cincinnati Ballet Company.
“The program has a really nice history and the ballet is so cool,” Liu says of the Cincinnati Ballet.
So Liu sent an audition video of herself dancing to the Cincinnati Ballet and was accepted into the company. She left the Shanghai Dance Academy — and her family — for the U.S. in 2011.
Do you have a specific memory of when you knew that this is what you wanted to do?
I like to dance because I want to be on stage. I think that’s what makes me happy. I want to be the focus of all people’s attention. I feel right on stage. I really want to show myself.
It’s Friday night after a long week. Where would you love to be?
I would like to go to a Chinese restaurant. I like Red Pepper because I like spicy food. My friends found another place called Bon Chinese. I’ve only been once but it’s still really good.
What do you love about Cincinnati?
It’s so different [than] China. In my city, Shanghai, it’s a big city, so there are a lot of people around. And it’s a lot of noise and it’s not clean. … In Shanghai every morning people are walking so fast, but here everyone is so calm. Also, here, I think it’s a little bit of a country style, and I’ve never seen that. Even [Cincinnati] has traffic, but it’s less crowded than Shanghai.
Name someone that you love: role model, best friend, inspiration, etc. And tell us why.
Well, I have a boyfriend. His name is Rodrigo Almarales. Right now, he’s really helping me in my class and in rehearsal. He’s a soloist in our company, so when he tells me stuff it makes me better. And Victoria Morgan. She is our artistic director and CEO. She’s taken care of me a lot. She introduced me to some Chinese people because she doesn’t want me feel alone. It makes me feel warm. I thank her so much.
What’s the best lesson life has taught you about love?
I think my parents. … My father is special because when I was younger he always brought me to the dance school. My father said, ‘I have to bring you every week.’ They give me a lot of love. They support me a lot.
Do you think you’ll do ballet forever?
We can only dance until we’re 35. When you’re getting older, you will feel it. A lot of ballet dancers have pain in their feet, ankles, knees, maybe their back because your body gets too tired. If you have a lot of pain, you don’t want to dance anymore. Ballet always looks so beautiful, and if you can’t do it like this, you don’t want to do it.