Dancing East Asia conference at U Michigan

Dancing East Asia: Critical Choreographies and their Corporeal Politics
April 7-8 | Hatcher Library Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

This conference examines the moving body as a medium of artistic experimentation, cultural exchange, and political activism in East Asia. Invited scholars from Asia, Europe, and North America will present new research on dance in the East Asian region, including China, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Covering late imperial times to the present, the conference will offer a landmark event for the emerging field of East Asian dance studies.

Dancing East Asia has been designated the 2017 “Special Topics Conference” by the Society for Dance History Scholars, the dance studies organization of ACLS.

This conference is one part of an ongoing research project focused on Dance Studies and Global East Asia and an edited volume directed and authored by Emily Wilcox and Katherine Mezur.

Visit the conference website. Continue reading

Dance Exhibition at U of Michigan

The University of Michigan Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies and the University Library are pleased to announce a new exhibition, Chinese Dance: National Movements in a Revolutionary Age, 1945-1965, to be held March 1-May 15, 2017 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Featuring materials from the University of Michigan Library’s Asia Library, home of North America’s largest collection of research materials on Chinese dance, the exhibition introduces modern Chinese dance history during the period from 1945 to 1965 through digitized photographs, performance programs, archival materials, books, and videos.

The exhibition is co-curated by Emily Wilcox (U-M Department of Asian Languages and Cultures) and Liangyu Fu (U-M Asia Library) and co-sponsored by the U-M Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies and the University Library. Continue reading

Core socialist values in song and dance

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (9/1/16)
China’s ‘Core Socialist Values,’ the Song-and-Dance Version
By KIKI ZHAO

BEIJING — The 12 “core socialist values” are memorized by schoolchildren, featured in college entrance exams, printed on stamps and lanterns, and splashed on walls across China. Now they have made their way into 20 song-and-dance routines that the authorities in Hunan Province plan to promote to the country’s millions of “square dancers,” the mostly middle-aged and older women who gather in public squares to perform in unison. Continue reading

Dance version of Bi Feiyu’s The Moon Opera

Source: Global Times (10/115)
Wang’s ‘The Moon’ wows audiences

A scene from The Moon Opera Photo: Courtesy of Zhang Xiaolei

It’s no surprise that writer Bi Feiyu’s novel The Moon Opera has been adapted into various art forms from small screen TV dramas to big screen movies and even modern dance. However, people who have seen the trial performances in Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province in late September and the official debut at the National Center for The Performing Arts in Beijing from October 4-6, were surprised to find that the dance version presented by dancer Wang Yabin surpassed their expectation for a dance drama. A melding of modern and classic dance forms, The Moon Opera by Wang Yabin portrays both the stage career and emotional life of an opera performer, said a review by Beijing Youth Daily. Continue reading

White-Haired Girl returns to stage

Source: Sinosphere (11/10/15)
‘White-Haired Girl,’ Opera Created Under Mao, Returns to Stage
By CHRIS BUCKLEY

A scene from a new production of the revolutionary opera “The White-Haired Girl,” which had its premiere in Yan’an, China, the Communists’ wartime stronghold.

A scene from a new production of the revolutionary opera “The White-Haired Girl,” which had its premiere in Yan’an, China, the Communists’ wartime stronghold.Credit Lu Xu/Chinese Ministry of Culture

Mao Zedong was said to have been moved to tears when he watched an early performance of “The White-Haired Girl,” an opera created to meet his call for rousing revolutionary art. And under President Xi Jinping, a revival is on the road, reinvented once more to appeal to a Communist Party leader’s stringently ideological tastes.

The opera was first performed in 1945 in Yan’an, the Communists’ revolutionary base in northwestern China, inspired by Mao’sprecepts for revolutionary art and literature delivered at a landmark forum in 1942. The Ministry of Culture said it had revived the story in response to Mr. Xi’s own landmark speech last year on the role of the arts in China, when he demanded politically wholesome art cleansed of decadence.

The revival had its premiere in Yan’an on Friday, and performances are planned in nine additional Chinese cities, culminating in Beijing in mid-December, the Ministry of Culture said in an emailed statement. Continue reading

How Li Cunxin danced to freedom

Source: The Guardian (7/30/15)
‘I would have jumped off a roof for Mao’: how Li Cunxin danced to freedom
Forced into ballet as a child in Mao’s China, Li Cunxin defected to the US and had to work as a stockbroker to support his family back home. But he never quit dancing. As he brings the Queensland Ballet to Britain, he talks about his traumas and triumphs – and shock at seeing people take their privileged lives for granted
By Judith Mackrell

Li Cunxin dances The Rite of Spring at Houston Ballet.

Li Cunxin dances The Rite of Spring at Houston Ballet in 1986.

Li Cunxin was just 11 when Chinese officials came to his home in rural Shandong and told him he’d been selected to study at the Beijing Academy of Dance. It was 1972, the height of Mao’s cultural revolution, and an entire nation was being shoehorned into creating a new communist China. Cunxin had never danced before – his physique simply looked promising – but once in Beijing, he was plunged into a punishing physical regime, designed to make or break him as a future member of Mao’s ballet. Every day in the studio, Li’s untutored legs were yanked into stretches that tore his hamstrings. His feet – numb and cold in their alien ballet slippers – were forced into inexplicably odd positions. Homesick, sore, and 1,000 miles away from his family, Li cried himself to sleep at night. Continue reading

Lu Xun-inspired ballet (1)

This was just performed at Brooklyn Academy of Music, and there is a review of it (unfortunately, quite negative) in today’s New York Times. See below.

Rebecca Karl <rebecca.karl@nyu.edu>

Source: NYT (10/17/14): http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/arts/dance/wild-grass-by-beijing-dance-theater-at-next-wave.html

Contemporary Choreography Woven From Poems of China’s Past
‘Wild Grass,’ by Beijing Dance Theater, at Next Wave
By SIOBHAN BURKE

Beijing Dance Theater, with, foreground from left, Zhang Qiang and Li Cai, at the Harvey Theater at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. CreditRuby Washington/The New York Times

Continue reading

Lu Xun-inspired ballet at Kennedy Center

DPDSB_BeijingDanceTheater_400x400Next week the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., will present one of China’s newest contemporary ballet companies, Beijing Dance Theater (founded in 2009 by Wang Yuanyuan), performing a collection of works called Wild Grass, inspired by poems of Lu Xun: https://www.kennedy-center.org/events/?event=DPDSB Wang is one of China’s most successful young female choreographers and dance entrepreneurs. Her adaptation of Jin Ping Mei generated controversy and attention a few years ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/arts/24iht-dance24.html http://blog.calarts.edu/2011/04/01/banned-in-beijing-calarts-alumna-choreographs-jin-ping-mei/ A post-show discussion will take place on Wednesday, Oct 22nd.

Emily Wilcox eewilcox@umich.edu