Richmond Ballet News

Ma Cong Revisits “Lift The Fallen” One Year Later

May 7th, 2015

Richmond Ballet's Made in The USA

Ma Cong’s 2014 work, Lift The Fallen, will return for four performances this May, as the Company previews its mixed repertory touring program, Made in The USA: Traditions & Innovations, at the Studio Theatre, ahead of its four-city tour to China which kicks off later this month. Ma Cong’s personal journey of loss and recovery, as expressed through movement, and set to Max Richter’s emotional music, brought audiences to their feet during its premiere now almost a year ago. Read more about Lift The Fallen and its special inspiration.

In the words of Julinda Lewis, Dance Critic for The Richmond Times DispatchLift The Fallen “aims for and achieves a sense of grand style and transcendent beauty…Lift The Fallen is not just choreography; the dance speaks to and from the heart.”

Recently, we spoke with Ma Cong, who reflected on this ballet, now a year since its creation, and in light of its debut in his home country, China.


Richmond Ballet (RB): What does it mean to you to have Lift The Fallen performed in China by Richmond Ballet?

Ma Cong (MC): First of all, I am very, very grateful because Richmond Ballet is the first company to be performing my work in my homeland. So it’s both really exciting and really touching. At home, I have so many friends still, and my hometown audience and my people in China, they are expecting to see what I have done for these past 15 years [since I have moved away from China]. So for me, it’s not really pressure that I am feeling, because I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while now. So yes, I’m just very, very excited. I’m just so appreciative that Richmond Ballet – this very, very beautiful company – is the company to take my piece to China.


RB: Has your approach towards Lift The Fallen changed a year since its premiere?

MC: I have not made any changes to this work. I think when I started choreographing this work, I had really done a lot of work before I arrived in Richmond [to set the piece on] the dancers. So after the work premiered, and I stepped back to take a look at it to see if there was anything that I would like to change about it, I didn’t really see anything. The dancers fit my choreography so well. And I thought that the choreography itself was well-crafted.


RB: Why was Richmond Ballet the right company to choreograph this personal ballet on?

MC: When I choreographed this work last year in May, it had been two years since my mother had left me. So at that time, I was trying to find a tool…to cure myself. So, it was really the right timing when Stoner approached me, and asked me if I wanted to choreograph something; it was the right time for me to give this work, to choreograph this work. Also my past experiences in working with Richmond Ballet, with Ershter Vals or Luminitza, I just found it so comfortable and easy – from the staff, to the dancers, the entire company, we all spoke the same language and worked together. It was such a comfortable working environment, and there was so much positivity on the dance floor. Especially because this work is super-personal, it needed to have the right timing, and [to be set on] the right company with a lot of great collaborators. Read more about the rehearsal process in Richmond during April and May of 2014.


RB: What does it mean to you to know that people were so moved by the work, and its meaning?

MC: When I heard the responses, and what people had felt about this work, I was so pleased. I felt that my vision and all the work that the dancers had put into this piece had been accomplished. So yes, it was a great success, but really everybody [had a part in its success]. All of the audience that was in the theatre that began to feel through this work, that they could have felt the same thing that I felt, that’s very important to me, to do something that is passionate. That’s why we create art. For me, the most beautiful thing for humans is their soul and their heart. So I want to have my work inspire your soul and your heart. And with Lift The Fallen, I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve. So I am very, very happy and I feel I have accomplished [what I set out to do] for my mom.


Road to China Preview Performances  |  TICKETS START AT $20.00

Featuring the mixed repertory touring program, Made in The USA: Traditions & Innovations

The program will feature four short works, including two ballets by iconic American choreographers, Valse Fantaisie by George Balanchine and After Eden by John Butler; and two ballets commissioned and premiered by Richmond Ballet, Swipe by Val Caniparoli, and Lift The Fallen by Ma Cong.

Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre  |  407 E. Canal Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

Tuesday, May 12, 6:30 pm (includes a farewell reception for Shira Lanyi

Wednesday, May 13, 6:30 pm

Thursday, May 14, 6:30 pm

Friday, May 15, 6:30 pm

Tickets available at, by calling 1.800.514.3849,

or through the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 E. Canal Street

RTC Preview Sponsors



Lift The Fallen Performance and Rehearsal Photo by Sarah Ferguson.

Valse Fantaisie. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.

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