I have been pondering a while about the ready use of the term the ‘other’ in the present context of the gathering of Chinese, Taiwanese and UK-based choreographers as well as academics including the US. My sense is that beyond the institutional curriculum differences of each training institution that is involved here (which are arguably not representative of whole countries), I am looking here at ‘expert practices’ (Susan Melrose), which actually provide ground for something ‘shared’ and ‘common’, precisely on the level of expertise, rather than ‘otherness’.
Practitioners from different countries and with different backgrounds meet each day for a number of weeks in the studio, and what is at stake here is their expertise in dancing and choreography-making. My sense is that we should avoid to look at these practitioners in terms of their ‘other’ nationalities, as this is not what comes into play in the studio. What seems to be more relevant in the actual rehearsals is the degree of training that dancers have received, whether they are junior, senior or graduated dancers, whether they have specialised in contemporary dance or Chinese Classical dance, and how much experience they have in performing, indeed how they move, process notes and what individual qualities they offer to the work.
On the level of ‘observing’ the collaborations that are taking place here, I feel we need to draw up a new map of our world, which is a map of ‘practices’, rather than a map that delineates national boundaries. In terms of performing arts practice they do not seem very relevant to me now, writing as a (German) tai chi chuan practitioner who is based in London, and who witnesses here in Taipei both Taiwanese and Chinese dancers who are highly trained in classical ballet (amongst other dance forms), make work with Chinese, Taiwanese and UK-based choreographers.