Born in China, WanTing Zhao trained at the Beijing Dance Academy before moving to the U.S. to study at The Rock School and San Francisco Ballet.
She entered the San Francisco Ballet corps in 2011 and was promoted to soloist in 2016. Her Russian Pointe Rubins have been with her on every step of that professional journey.
Stage and screen
WanTing has performed principal or featured roles in a staggering list of classical and contemporary ballets, by choreographers from Fokine to Wheeldon. She’s also appeared on film in the series “Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance,” for which she performed the role of Rosaline in Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet in 2015.
Her performances are earning stellar reviews. In Makarova’s staging of “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadere, WanTing was called “diamantine” with “austere lines and steely sang-froid (that) left the most indelible impression of the entire evening” by Huffington Post reviewer Carla Escoda, who went on to write:
“… but it was Zhao – in arguably the most challenging Shade solo – who took our breath away. She came out of the starting gate all guns blazing, landing the notorious sissonnes développées and slow pirouettes with a stillness that reminds us that it is not just how high you jump or how fast you spin, but how you finish that separates the women from the girls.”
Joy of dance
“When I’m on stage, I feel the most like myself,” WanTing says. “Everything melts away, and all that’s left is me and the music. She sees her hard work in the studio as facilitating her ability to “truly express the music” once she gets on stage
After six years with the company, WanTing hopes to remain with San Francisco Ballet and someday advance to principal dancer. “It would be a dream come true,” she says.
Her Russian Pointes
WanTing has worn Rubin, with a Hard shank, for six years. “I had worn other brands before, but they died too quickly and didn’t have the support my foot needed,” she says. “I am often cast in adagios, and my Russian Pointe shoes allow me to get through even the most challenging pas de deux with ease.”
When she’s not dancing
A few years ago, WanTing tore her ACL during class and required surgery. While she was recovering, she picked up a camera and discovered a fascination with photography. “It became something I relied on when I couldn’t dance,” she recalls. “Today, it gives me something to focus on when I need to escape.” She also loves to travel during her time off. “This past summer, my boyfriend and I went to Thailand!”
WanTing was featured in Dance Spirit magazine in 2014. Read the article here. [http://www.dancespirit.com/whos-hot/the-dirt/dirt-wanting-zhao/]