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Modern Dance in China


Development of the modern Chinese dance has followed a long and tortuous road. Broadly speaking, in the process of the development of Chinese modern and contemporary dances, it seems that all forms of dances without specific national characteristics and classical patterns could be included in Chinese Modern Dance.

Chinese modern dance pioneers like Wu Xiaobang, Dai Ailian and Jia Zuoguang had intensive professional training in western modern dances. In their dancing, they not only retain the spirit of freedom and innovation, but more importantly, they pursue the national character of China and the trends of the time and combine that with what they were taught. Dance Classics of the Chinese Nation in the 20th century represented by great works such asMarch of the Volunteers,Song of the Guerrillas,Fire of Hunger, as well as Wu Xiaobang's motto "to dance to the rhythm of the times" should be considered treasures of the Chinese Modern Dance.

At the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, Wu Xiaobang set up the Tianma Dance Art Studio to promote his own teaching system that originated from modern dance. His works of this period includeThe Great Ambuscade, Three Variations of Plum Blossom, Wild Geese Landing On the Sand, which abide by a traditional cultural spirit. Also, we haveShepherd Boy Learning Chinese Characters,Soccer DanceandButterfly, which were based on modern life. His principles of art remained the same, however, and the above-mentioned works couldn't compete with the dances he created during the Anti-Japanese War in terms of their influence. Later, the pursuit of modern dance in China faded with the closing of theTianma Dance Art Studio.

Chinese modern dance began to create a new development trend at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s with the deepening of China's reform and opening-up. It was in the recent ten years that China directly brought in "authentic" Western modern dance and started new explorations into this field. Guangzhou, the pioneer of Chinese reform and Beijing, the political capital and cultural center became the bases for modern dance.

In 1987, the first experimental modern dance class opened in Guangdong Province; in 1991, the Beijing Dance Institute officially launched the modern dance teaching and research office. Many well-known Western modern dance experts were invited to China successively to give systematic training in shape and choreography. They were Sarah Stackhouse, Ruby Shang, Douglas Nielson, Claudia Gittleman, Lucas Hoving, Birgit Akesson, Ren Lu Wang and Chang Ching, etc., from the United States, Britain, Sweden, Canada, and Australia.

Soon after, young Chinese modern dancers began to emerge on the world stage with their unique style. The pioneers were Qin Liming and Qiao Yang from the Guangdong Modern Dance Class. They clinched the gold medal of the pas de deux at the Fourth Paris International Modern Dance Contest in 1990 with the dancesPassing Voice(choreographed by Cao Chengyuan) andImpression of Taiji. Later in 1994 and 1996, gold medals at the sixth and seventh Paris international modern dance contests were again snatched by Chinese Xing Liang and Sang Jijia. Aside from performing works by Cao Chengyuan, both of them presentedThe LightandDanglingcreated by themselves. To experts in world modern dance circles' surprise, Chinese artists began to rapidly enter modern dance circles with their works of international standard and the charm of the Orient.

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