Jiang Dong’s London Reflections 05: The “special character of ArtsCross”
During the meeting between the academics and the choreographers, Chris touched on the topic of “ArtsCross Habitus”. “Habitus” is a word which was translated by the Taiwanese academic Chen
Within this context, Chris’s intention was to question the three groups of choreographers whether they intended to make special modifications to their choreographic approach and principles for the purpose of ArtsCross. I think what he was actually trying to express was, given that during the past four years, ArtsCross has started to develop its own characteristics as a special platform, what is the “special character of ArtsCross?”
This was a good question, and given the continual growth of ArtsCross over the past four years, it was a good time to consider this question. Personally, I think the “special character of ArtsCross” is manifested in at least three areas:
First, in communication and exchange of ideas.
Within this project, the importance of communication and exchange of ideas was clear for all to see. What is more key is that communication and exchange of ideas doesn’t just occur between the Chinese and Western participants, but also between the mainland and Taiwanese participants. Mainland China and Taiwan, while belonging to a common cultural bloc, have developed their own individual approaches and orientations after many years of partition. ArtsCross enabled a dance project to create a bridge across the Taiwan Straits, bringing together colleagues from both sides of the water together to consider the same questions and communicate with one another. The significance of this was no less than that of the interaction between the Chinese and Western participants. Through this exchange, we also learnt a lot about the development of dance in Taiwan. This
In his third seminar, the American academic Ted Warburton paid particular attention to the concepts of confrontation and common ground. He also expressed his hope that people’s differences can serve as a reminder to us all. In other words, the era in which we find ourselves is a highly globalised era. The question of how humans, living together in a ‘global village’, can respect one another is an important question for our times. On this point, ArtsCross was able to present its own perfect answer.
Second, again, is communication and exchange of ideas.
Communication and exchange of ideas on “the special character of ArtsCross” was not limited to an exchange between geographical regions. The project brought together academics, choreographers and dancers. By bringing together these three constituencies within one platform, the project created an unbroken chain of dance creation. This approach clearly demonstrated the cultivation and vision of the project planners. At the crux of the discussion were the connections between theory and practice. For a long time, whether in China or the West, the separation between dance practice and theory has been frustrating. The practical arena lacks a rational perspective, and the theoretical world lacks emotion and participation. ArtsCross, on the other hand, brings the three groups together, bringing academics into the centre of the dance creation process — to discover, to question and to interact. Through classroom observation, the academics are able to conduct a detailed investigation into the questions which interest them. This new approach creates a new way of thinking and new pathways of investigation, building a bridge between the two sides, which in the past were divided. I would contest that this is another element of the “special character of ArtsCross.”
The special character of ArtsCross is rooted in communication and exchange of ideas. What is more, since this exchange of ideas takes place in a context unfamiliar to all participants, they are therefore forced to consider what adjustments they must make to operate within these “special circumstances.” In this sense, ArtsCross resembles a conduit, or a magnet, drawing together common and differing perspectives to create one harmonious whole.