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Dancing, motionlessly, through time

An octogenarian sculptor's childhood experiences with her archaeologist father inspired her to devote her life to creating replicas of ceramic statuettes of women dancers from various dynasties, Chen Nan reports.

By Chen Nan | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-06-10 10:31
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Ceramic figurines made by sculptor and cultural relics restoration specialist Wang Qian that are based on Chinese relics from different dynasties.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A female dancer gently bends her knees as her eyes gaze at the floor. Another lifts her heel, raises her arms and tilts her head sideways. They are two clay figurines in a set of eight dancing women created by 80-year-old sculptor and cultural relics restoration specialist Wang Qian.

On May 14, Wang, who previously worked at the Xi'an Beilin Museum — which is home to over 10,000 precious stone carvings and steles — in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, visited the Beijing Dance Academy, a leading dance school in China, founded in 1954.

She has donated 105 sets of dancing figurines, consisting of 353 pieces, which she made from 2015 to 2020, to the institution.

They are replicas of ceramic dancers she saw in museums, books and photos. The originals were sculpted between the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Some of the originals are housed in such institutions as the Shaanxi History Museum, Xi'an Museum and Xuzhou Museum in Jiangsu province. Some others, unfortunately, only exist in books and photos now.

"I've always loved dancing, ever since I was a kid," says Wang, who started making replicas of dancing clay figurines in 2015 with art students at places like the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts.

"I've spent my whole life making clay figurines, and dancers are my favorite type."

Wang believes the Beijing Dance Academy is the ideal venue for her works.

"I hope the teachers and students will bring those dancing sculptures alive onstage, allowing more people to enjoy their unique beauty," she says.

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