There’s a specific moment in the Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe’s rendition of Swan Lake that sets it apart from other ballet performances: A ballerina, Wu Zhengdan, twirls with her dancing shoes en pointe on the head of her partner, Wei Baohua. Wu appears steady — as if she is spinning on solid ground instead of the head of a fellow human being.
The audience breaks out in applause. In 2011, critic Laura Thompson of the Telegraph wrote that Wu and Wei’s performance is “not merely jaw-dropping, it is beautiful. It has artistry as well as trickery.” Thompson pondered the show’s defining moment — when Wu majestically twirls on Wei’s head: “Does this girl have Copydex on her toes? Does her Prince have a head as flat as a platform?”
The famous move might only be possible because of the special bond that Wu and her husband Wei share. The couple has been dancing together since the late 1980’s according to the New York Times they met at the Shenyang Sports School when Wu was 6 and Wei was 16. The two were often paired together, but their romance didn’t develop until much later.
“I suppose at the start I didn’t look at her that way, she was like a younger sister to me,” Wei told the Telegraph in 2011. “But over time we fell in love. As we started to work together more and more, we gradually became perfectly physically and mentally attuned to each other.”
The couple’s harmony has helped them become a global sensation. The New York Times reported that in 2005 Wu and Wei performed for U.S. president George Bush and China’s president Hu Jintao, and a recording of the couple performing with the Great Chinese State Circus has accumulated nearly 28 million views on YouTube.
Watch the breathtaking video: