Jiang Dong’s London Reflections 09: ArtsCross Blending Mainland and Taiwanese Dance on the Stage
In summing up the ArtsCross forum, the British Scholar Martin noted that he would like to hear some discussion on the meeting of mainland and Taiwanese dance. If we failed to engage in such discussion, we would not be doing justice to the way in which the participants from both sides of the Taiwan Straits made use of ArtsCross to engage in a healthy and rich exchange around dance.
The ArtsCross project began in the Beijing Dance Academy in 2009. Participants from China and the UK took part in the project, and it was called Danscross. In 2010, the Taipei National University of the Arts became the third participant in the project, organising that year’s ArtsCross activity. The ArtsCross stage not only witnessed cultural exchanges between China and the West, but also saw interactions between Mainland China and Taiwan. This represented a fantastic leap forward.
Mainland China and Taiwan have been cut off for a long time, and each has developed its own dance culture, which complement one another in many ways. In seeking to promote positive interactions between mainland and Taiwanese dance culture, and allowing wisdom derived from dance to contribute to the rise of Chinese culture, ArtsCross established a new model for dance cultural exchange between the mainland and Taiwan. Through the medium of ArtsCross, the mainland and Taiwanese dancers, choreographers and scholars engaged in uninhibited dialogue. Dance culture transcended all barriers, and thanks to cultural and linguistic similarities, the exchanges between the mainland and Taiwanese participants generated unprecedented results.
This was, without doubt, one of the major achievements of the ArtsCross project! Through ArtsCross, we not only got to know Taiwanese dancers up close, we also got to appreciate the development of Taiwanese dance, thanks to our very close interactions. This was truly one of the unexpected added benefits of ArtsCross.
When dancers from the mainland and Taiwan are put together on a stage, it is certainly easy to see clear differences between them: the physical condition and level of training of the mainland dancers is highly pronounced, while the adaptability and
During the rehearsals, the energy of the Taiwanese dancers was clear for all to see. Through the whole process, I felt like they had a kind of communal quality, but try as I might, I could not find the language to describe what I felt. It was not until was back in Beijing, discussing this point with Zhao Tiechun, the Director of the Beijing Dance Academy Research Student Department, and he used a description which I immediately realised was a very accurate description, expressing exactly what I wanted to say: “Proactive Initiative.”
Whether in the rehearsal hall or on the stage, it is certainly the case that the Taiwanese dancers exhibit a kind of proactive initiative which is hard to describe. A kind of proactive and open state of mind. This proactive initiative is obvious while at the same time betraying a sense of modesty and courtesy. It is extremely pleasant. Of course, the devotion and expressive force exhibited on stage by the Taiwanese dancers left me with a strong impression. This high level of performance demonstrated the overall level of quality which has developed in Taiwanese dance.
Based on what I heard from the Taiwanese academic Chen Yaping, modern dance creation is now mainstream within the Taiwan dance scene. Because of this, the three Taiwanese choreographers, Ho
In our daily exchanges and interactions with the Taiwanese dancers, we really felt that we got on extremely well. The Taiwanese academics nearly all had Western academic backgrounds and, as a result, were all able to connect with the international participants from an academic, conceptual and methodological perspective. This also left a deep impression. Their modest and virtuous characters gave us a strong sense of the best sides of Chinese culture.
While dance has evolved differently in the Chinese mainland and in Taiwan, at different scales and through different frameworks, both forms have developed strengths and special characters, which strongly complement one another. ArtsCross allowed us to come together; ArtsCross allowed us to communicate with one another. As long as both sides come armed with sincerity and