After two phases of Artscross I attended in Taipei in 2011 and in Beijing in 2o12 so far, an important shift took place for me at the auditions for this 2013 phase in London. I had always been highly sensitive to the discourses that emerged around the dancers and choreographers, as well as academics, representing in some ways their ‘countries’. Very easily, in my view, discussions arise in which generalisations happen about Chinese-ness, British-ness and Taiwanese-ness, and ‘old’ mistakes that we have supposedly learned from, can all too easily creep into discourses.
Perhaps it was due to the London group largely being made up of dancers who might well live here in London, but come from different countries, such as Italy for instance. Also the London-based choreographers are not all British. One of the Taiwanese dancers is from Hong Kong etc. So what happened was that at the auditions, in order for the choreographers to be able to choose dancers from each place, they needed to work in their groups. And here the terms ‘Chinese’, ‘British’ and ‘Taiwanese’ did not quite work for categorisation, and the groups were simply described as the ‘Beijing group’, the ‘Taipei group’ and the ‘London group’. Moreover, each group is made up of course of individuals from specific schools and with specific training and professional dancing backgrounds.
Something to think about, for me, as countries propose a very different sort of identity to those of cities. I am looking forward to see the works unfold in the meeting of the different localities involved. What do Beijing and Taipei bring to London? And what does London offer them? What role, in fact, did each city play, in which the different Artscross phases have taken place so far?