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Hard act to follow

By Cai Xiao | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-04 01:19

Hard act to follow

Yang Liping and her partner perform during their first show in Kunming, Yunnan province, in August, 2012. The Peacock tour led by Yang started in Kunming. Provided to China Daily

A huge name in Chinese entertainment, dancer Yang Liping is now hoping for a second career as a businesswoman, Cai Xiao discovers.

In Yang Liping's mind, dancing is the happiest thing in the world. She says she can still stand in front of a mirror for hours practicing her movements. Throughout her career, the 54-year-old has considered dance as her life - but of course, life moves on, and in September she will leave the stage, soon after her current farewell tour finishes, and devote her time to maintaining and developing future dance shows, in cooperation with some heavyweight financial investors.

"Art and capital are not contrary - they work together, " she said.

In just that kind of cooperation, she has just agreed a deal in which Shenzhen Capital Group Co Ltd, a leading Chinese private equity firm, has invested 30 million yuan ($4.8 million) in her Kunming-based Yang Liping Arts & Culture Ltd, for a 30 percent stake in the business.

Arguably one of the most investable entertainment stars in China now hopes the cash injection will mark the start of a successful second career, as a businesswoman.

But Yang has managed to do something which up until now, has proved difficult for many companies in the arts and cultural sector - attract serious investment.

It was in 1979, that the 21-year-old Yang first started capturing the public's imagination in Yunnan province, starring in the dance show, "Princess Peacock".

By 1986, she had raised her profile around China, and by then was starring in the solo dance show, "Spirit of Peacock".

But it wasn't until 2000, that Yang started thinking about combining her art, with business.

After leaving the Central Ensemble of National Minorities Songs and Dances, a national art performance troupe, she was left without the comfort of national funding, and was forced to think how she could finance her future.

In 2002, she started creating an original ethnic stage show, "Shangrila - Dynamic Yunnan" (the Yunnan Show), hand-picking performers from the mountain areas of Yunnan province.

But early investors in the show could not understand her idea of using just amateur dancers, and withdrew their funding.

But Yang refused to give up.

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