First impressions of dance practice in Beijing

4 July 2012

Today was a fascinating day visiting classes at Beijing Dance Academy and rehearsals of choreographer Teng Aimin who runs the Beijing City Contemporary Dance company.

While my intrigue and respect with technical ability in both students and professionals has been further fed, I was today likewise very much drawn to what took [...]

Beijing Dance Academy visit

Outside the entrance to the BDA


More impressions of dance in Beijing

An impressive series of meetings has taken place so far, and we have visited and met representatives from Peking University, the Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group as well as watched rehearsals of China Beijing City Contemporary Dance Company, Beijing Modern Dance Company and LDTX.

These visits have revealed an exciting mix of concepts, approaches and [...]

Peking University visit

At the Research Centre for Ethnic Music and Musical Theatre, School of Arts, Peking University


The Modern and the Contemporary

This has been our sixth day of cultural visits in the Chinese capital, and it is now that I am slowly getting a feel for, and starting to form an initial (and still tentative) overview of the arts and in particular the contemporary dance scene. In the last few days we visited among other cultural institutions three contemporary dance companies: Beijing Modern Dance Company, LDTX, and Beijing City Contemporary Dance Company, and were able [...]

Photos, 4 July


Photos, 5 July


Penghao Theatre Visit

Down in a Hutong we visited Penghao Theatre, run by Artistic Director Dandan Willis, a young, visionary woman with passion and interest for making a difference to the live performance scene in Beijing and possibly beyond.

This is not the first time that I was made aware of an apparent effort to generate and [...]

The individual tradition

I understand that when modern dance teaching first gained a foothold in China in the wake of modernisation and decentralisation a decade or so after the Cultural Revolution – in places such as the Guangdong Academy in Gunangzhou in the late 1980s – the tension between (Western) individualism and (Eastern) collectivism must have been a major issue. After all, Maoist orthodoxy, Chinese family structures as well as the dance forms people had so far engaged in (such as ballet [...]

Photos, 4–8 July


East West – Things…

I was delighted to learn a few months ago in my Mandarin class that the Chinese word for ‘thing’ or ‘things’ is made up of dong, meaning ‘East’, and xi, meaning ‘West’. — ‘East’ and ‘West’ put together hence is used to refer to some non-descript entity, something that cannot or is not wished to [...]

Photos, 9 July


It is a truth to be universally observed, that the rain everywhere is wet, and that those caught out in it will be similarly so. Despite the apparently cast iron virtue of this moronic sort of logic, it can also be observed, that despite its relentlessly downward descent, there are a) different ways and means [...]

An unfamiliar sense of excitement for the future…

It seems striking to me how often I have witnessed here a sense of excitement and potential for change with regard to the performing arts in China. Whether dance companies or experimental theatre and dance venue, many voices here talk about a chance for a strong development of a performance culture.

This has been expressed [...]

TAO Dance Theater visit

Before I head back to London tomorrow I wanted to share a few images and reflections on our visit to TAO Dance Theater. I had seen their performance last year at Sadlers Wells, Lilian Baylis Studio, and it was insightful to observe one of their daily warm-up and training sessions at this visit.

Tao Ye, [...]

Looking back

Having departed from Beijing a few days ago, I am now reminiscing about our experiences in China’s cultural capital which I shall aim to summarise here in an impressionistic form, but true to the kaleidoscope of encounters, visits and studio practice observations we had during our fascinating time there.

One cannot help noticing that the topic most frequently addressed was the East-West encounter in terms of dance technique, funding situations [...]