The Princeton Department of Music is delighted to be partnering with the Lewis Center for the Arts to bring Reimagining the Ballet des Porcelaines: A story of Magic, Desire, and Exotic Entanglement to Princeton University on March 18-19, 2022.

The Ballet des Porcelaines, a ballet pantomime, was first presented in 1739 by a group of French aristocrats at a chateau near Paris. It tells the story of a prince searching for his lover on a faraway island ruled by a magician, who has transformed the inhabitants into porcelain. The prince and princess break the spell, bringing the dancers back to life. On the one hand, a standard Orientalist fairy tale, the ballet is also an allegory for the intense European desire to know and possess the secrets of making porcelain. Although it would later inspire famous ballets featuring sleeping beauties and porcelain princesses, the Ballet des Porcelaines is virtually unknown. What is particularly exciting about this performance, however, is the way in which ballet is updated for contemporary audiences, flipping the script whereby the Asian protagonists are placed front and center. By reimagining this chinoiserie rococo production, this production gets at the heart of the mystery, exoticism, and complex cultural work that is imbedded in the production of porcelain.

The project is directed by Phil Chan (choreographer and activist), and Art Historian Meredith Martin ’97 (Associate Professor of Art History, New York University).

Tickets and Details

Performances are free and open to the public as noted below. Tickets required; reserve tickets through University Ticketing.

Performance Schedule

  • Friday, March 18 at 4 PM — Public Performance
  • Friday, March 18 at 4:45 PM — Panel Discussion, chaired by Tina Fehlandt (Lecturer in Dance, Lewis Center for the Arts), featuring Meredith Martin, Phil Chan, Anne Cheng (Professor of English). Open to public.
  • Friday, March 18 at 7 PM — Public Performance
  • Saturday, March 19 at 11:30 AM — Special Performance only for students in Trenton Arts at Princeton
  • Saturday, March 19 at 3:15 PM — Public Performance

COVID-19 Guidance + Updates

Per Princeton University policy, all guests are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to the maximum extent, which now includes a COVID booster shot for all eligible to receive it, and to wear a mask when indoors. Performers may be unmasked while performing.


symbol for wheelchair accessibilityThe event space is wheelchair accessible. Visit our Venues and Studios section for accessibility information at our various locations. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email at least one week in advance of the event date.

Related Events

Associated events include a Music Department Colloquium by Olivia Bloechl (University of Pittsburgh) at noon on Friday, March 18, (Presented via Zoom in Woolworth Center), as well as a special display of related materials at the Cotsen Library, curated by Andrea Immel, including a presentation at 2:00 PM on Friday.


In addition to Princeton University’s Department of Music and the Lewis Center for the Arts, co-sponsors for the event include the Humanities Council, Department of French and Italian, Program in East Asian Studies, Department of Art and Archaeology, Program in Italian Studies, Effron Center for the Study of America, and the Program in European Cultural Studies.

Presented By

  • Program in Dance
  • Department of Music

Additional Info