BodyVox The Spin Dance Portland Oregon

A Portland ballet star moves on to Hong Kong

Xuan Cheng, principal dancer for Oregon Ballet Theatre, is the new principal dancer and ballet mistress for Hong Kong Ballet. She'll split the next year between Hong Kong and Oregon.


Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancer Xuan Cheng has taken a new dual post at Hong Kong Ballet and will split the coming year between Hong Kong and Portland.

Xuan Cheng, principal dancer for Oregon Ballet Theatre for the past 10 years, has taken a new post as principal dancer and ballet mistress of Hong Kong Ballet, joining the artistic leadership of the Hong Kong company, which with almost 50 dancers is roughly twice the size of OBT. She announced her move in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“As many of you may already know, I am having my farewell performance with OBT this coming February performing La Sylphide,” she wrote. “It is very bittersweet, I am already missing my OBT family and Portland audience very much.

“In the meantime, I am so excited to announce that I am join(ing) Hong Kong Ballet this season as Ballet Mistress and Principal Dancer. I am already working with the company for the past three weeks and it has been a blast. I am looking forward to performing in Septime Webre’s Carmina Burana for its Asian premiere in October.”

She will tour with the Hong Kong company to New York in January to perform Septime’s Romeo and Juliette, she added, and will perform a new work by her husband, Ye Li, in the Palm Desert Choreography Festival in November.

Cheng is from Chenzhou, China, and has been a professional dancer for two decades, half of her career at OBT. She’s also been a principal dancer with La La Human Steps, touring in 20 countries; a principal with GuangZhou Ballet of China; and a soloist with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens.

She is also artistic director of the Oregon International Ballet Academy, a school that she founded in 2015 with Ye Li, who is the academy’s executive director and choreographer. Ye Li was a soloist with OBT for five years.

Cheng will split the coming year between Hong Kong and Oregon, she said in a followup exchange, dancing in La Sylphide for OBT and continuing as artistic director of the ballet academy. Ye Li will continue to be based in Oregon, remaining as executive director of OIBC and as rehearsal director for OBT2, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 15-dancer pre-professional company.

“With OIBA we have exciting Nutcracker performances in December and Spring performances in June scheduled at the Reser Center for the Arts” in Beaverton, Cheng said. Her move to Hong Kong, she added, “is a great opportunity for OIBA, too, because it opens more doors for future opportunities.”

“I am so excited for the new adventure ahead of me,” she concluded her Facebook announcement. “Thank you both to OBT and HKB for being so supportive and thanks to those of you (who) have always trusted in me and helped me. I am grateful!”

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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