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Genre-blurring dance event sets stage for young talent

China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-02 07:39
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A scene from the Demon Within-Journey to the West, which will be staged at NCPA on July 14 and 15. [Photo provided to China Daily]

An annual event called Chinese Dance for 12 Days, which aims to showcase young Chinese dancer-choreographers, will be held at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing from July 14 to August 1.

At the event, initiated and organized by NCPA in 2012, six original dance works by seven young Chinese dancer-choreographers will be staged.

According to Zhao Ruheng, the artistic director of NCPA's dance division, the theme of this year's event is "the original aspiration of a dance".

Speaking about the event, Zhao, who was a former dancer with the National Ballet of China and its former director, says: "China's dance scene has been transformed greatly with the influence of various Western dance forms. So, the audience will see six dance works by young talents, who base their works on real life."

Zhao also adds that she is surprised to see young Chinese dancer-choreographers blurring the lines between different dance genres, such as traditional Chinese folk dance, ballet and contemporary dance.

"They use diverse moves to express themselves, which results in emotional and personal choreography," says Zhao.

One of the six dance pieces is The Demon Within-Journey to the West, performed and choreographed by Yang Hailong, which will be staged at NCPA on July 14 and 15.

For the performance, Yang, who was born in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and graduated from the dance department of Minzu University of China in 2000, draws inspiration from the 17th-century Chinese classic novel, Journey to the West, written by Wu Cheng'en.

In the dance, the all-male cast tells one of the most well-known stories in the novel, Three Times Beating Baigujing.

Baigujing is a demon from the novel. And in the dance piece, Yang shows how the four protagonists in the novel react to the demon.

Speaking about the dance, Yang, who is now working as an independent artist in Beijing, says: "How to stay true to your heart and figure out what you want is what we want to say through this piece. The four protagonists, such as the powerful Monkey King and the Buddhist Xuan Zang, have their own ideas when facing the demon. So, the audience has to make its judgment by watching the show."

The Demon Within-Journey to the West is a sequel to Yang's 2015 choreographic work, The Painted Skin, which is based on a story from the 17th-century Chinese novel Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling.

That work, with an all-male cast, was the first time that Yang combined a story from traditional Chinese literature with contemporary dance moves.

Explaining how he was inspired to produce his first work, he says that he decided to explore the connection between traditional Chinese literature and contemporary dance after watching a contemporary dance show performed by Peking Opera actor Zhang Chao a few years ago in Beijing.

Zhang has a part in both of Yang's choreographic works, The Painted Skin and The Demon Within-Journey to the West. And, in the latter, Zhang performs the role of the Monkey King.

Meanwhile, the other works to be performed at the 12-day event include Gong Zhonghui's piece, Gazebo, which explores romance in contemporary society, and Beyond The Stillness by Zheng Jie, which highlights the loneliness of humans.

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