Introductions

I’ve been on earth for more than half a century, and writing about dance and performance for more than half that time, and yet this is my first time to China. Kung Fu Panda was, I think, a good choice for an airplane movie. (Best line: ‘We do not wash our pits in the Pool of Sacred Tears.’) I shrugged off and then slept away jet lag. It helped that, instead of crashing as soon [...]

Card-carrying and carefree

I’ve only been here two days, but already i feel like a foreigner who belongs. I mean, I’ve become a card-carrying member of the National Library (conveniently located in an impressive new building just across the street from my hotel) and also signed up for a discount card from a nearby shop that sells sweets and all kinds of dried fruit. Now all I need is an invitation to join the Communist Party.

I’d [...]

Airing My Views

I’m like a sponge in Beijing soaking up impressions, information, interpretations. I use the latter word even though I’m largely observing the Danscross dance-making sans an interpreter, largely by choice. I guess I figure that if dance is indeed the universal language, that pretty much ought to hold true in the studio too. Which is not to say that I’m not taking advantage of Emily or Annie’s presence, or at all refusing [...]

Vital Signs

Fascinating and fun to watch Avatara Ayuso prepare to bring Shobana Jeyasingh’s dance — made at the very start of Danscross — back up to speed yesterday. It’s a sextet featuring, with one exception, dancers I have enjoyed watching this week in freshly-made pieces. Avatara is a wonderful teacher, in command yet relaxed. And she’s learning Mandarin!

I’m not quite clear about why the dancers balked at going barefoot. I see now that [...]

Helluva spell

Random thoughts and observations, or else I may never feel caught up with myself here:

The BDA Dance Company, as ringmaster Chris Bannerman put it to me the other day, is kind of the Chinese equivalent to NDT2. I wonder how the dancers perceive themselves, their place in the national (and, why not, global) culture, their sense of achievement and what potential they feel they collectively embody. My colleague Katherine has been [...]

shared exposure, or, share and share unlike

There’s a real heating up of the Danscross project as the collective energies of those who are involved and in Beijing focus on the public performances as opposed to the process. But these performances are also a part of the process. Will the enormous contradictions in Chinese culture be evident in the eight works to [...]

snow and health

It snowed on Sunday in Beijing. A lot. Some have said it was because scientists seeded the clouds. What would happen if they seeded choreographers or — why not — the public? Would there be a mass of dancing in the street? There already is movement in Beijing. The flow and disruption of traffic, yes, [...]

self, emotion, place, scale, spirit, gender

At Sunday’s press conference Luo Bin, chair of the Dance Research Institute of the China Arts Academy, spoke about the scholars and bloggers as ’participants in what we’re observing. In learning about the object of our study we are also the object of our study.’ I suspect that this idea — and I might’ve said [...]

Audience behaviour remembered

It’s been more than two months since I returned from Beijing and Dancross but, as has been expressed elsewhere on this site, I also feel that it was an utterly unforgettable and privileged experience. Ironically, perhaps, I still think of some of the things I didn’t get to do. Yes, I visited the Confucius Temple but not the nearby Lama Temple. Yes, I went to the Summer Palace but not the Yuanmingyuan ruins, despite their [...]

Reviewing the review

I make my living primarily as a critic, although it’s not a label with which I’m particularly comfortable. In any case, after I returned to London the magazine Dance Europe accepted my proposal to write about the Danscross performances, both of which took place at Beijing’s swank Poly Theatre. What follows are excerpts from that review, occasionally sprinkled with [in square brackets] my retrospective commentary.

‘At their best the pieces devised for Danscross [...]

Dream Speech

Below is a slightly doctored version of my summarising contribution to Danscross, delivered at a day-long conference following the two public performances of the eight finished pieces. Again, as in my previous review entry, I’m given myself permission to retrospectively comment on my own text [in square brackets].

‘I suspect I’m the only one of [...]