Beijing’s modern dance troupes have much in common: 20 or so finely honed performers, strong resumes of overseas festivals and biennales and, most importantly, the desire to create definitive Chinese dance. But while other troupes allow select members to launch occasional pieces or make supervised contributions, Beijing Dance/LDTX lets its performers run the show – literally. Founder and artistic director Willy Tsao encourages even the newest company members to create and mount their own works for paying audiences. ‘If they want help, they can ask, but they don’t have to,’ Tsao explains. ‘I trust them.’
This kind of unbridled creativity could immeasurably impact Chinese dance (if not society) in the future, but in the meantime, LDTX showcases some of these emerging dancers’ works this month. Titled Awakenings, the programme opens with Liu Yifeng’s ‘Nuo Ri Lang’, a twenty-minute multimedia piece about prayer, reincarnation and the titular Tibetan god. Lin Yintao’s five minute ‘Nan Jie’ deals with ‘a long road towards childhood memories’, while Zheng Zhi’s equally abbreviated examination of the past, ‘Liu Shi’ (‘Elapse of Time’), uses a variety of musical samples from Alicia Keys, Chen Sheng and John Powell, among others. He Shenyuan looks at the pitfalls of retrospection in the five-minute ‘Hui Yi, Yi An Yi Shi Yu’ (‘Memory is Both a Harbour and a Hell’), set to the music of Schindler’s List. Finally, Zi Wei’s 250-minute piece ‘He Man’ (‘Slow’) shows off ‘the tender emotions of the Mongolian people’ from whence he came. With such raw talents, results are unpredictable, but that’s the fun part – you just might be watching history in the making.