|Prince Siegfried lifts Odette in the final scene of Swan Lake as synchronized swimmers and ballet dancers, who played the swan maidens, watch. [China.org.cn]
Beijing's Olympic venues have been stuck in 2008, but their owners slowly are breaking out and finding cultural and athletic uses for them. Jackie Chan staged the first concert in May, drawing a crowd of 70,000. Besides the Charm of China: Bird's Nest Summer Concerts, the stadium will host the Italian Super Cup on August 8, the first major international sporting event since the Olympics, and then the Race of Champions in November. Star filmmaker Zhang Yimou of the Opening and Closing ceremonies is returning to the Bird's Nest to direct Turandot, the Giacomo Puccini opera about the love story of a Chinese princess. The show will run October 6 to 7 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Over at the Water Cube, where much of the same queues-to-see-nothing occurs, the Imperial Russian Ballet is performing Swan Lake.
Wait -- Swan Lake in the Water Cube? Why, yes: Besides a conventional stage (or not-so-conventional, if you notice that the stage scenery is set with computer animation that transitions between palace rooms and the lake), the Olympic pool and diving boards have been transformed into stages as well. Synchronized swimmers take over scenes from the ballet, and the dancers use the area between the swimming and diving pools, as well. Divers play the merry-makers and von Rothbart. For the more Chinese-arts-inclined, a diabolo (kong zhu) performance was thrown into the ballet as well and drew much appreciation from the crowd.
Swan Lake will run until the end of August. Meanwhile, visitors can take a dip in the warm-up pool Thursdays to Sundays until October, when both the Bird's Nest and Water Cube will close for renovations. After National Day, the Bird's Nest will feature restaurants on the second and third floors, while the Water Cube will be turned into an entertainment complex with cinemas and restaurants.
So experience the last little original bit of the 2008 Olympics while you can before Beijing moves on with the rest of the world. Even if you feel like you are seeing nothing, just remember you are inside the showcase for the Chinese people's dreams and achievements.