Yin Yue Dance Company Shares Stage with China’s Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School

Photo credit Niko

Yin Yue Dance Company and students from China’s Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School shared the stage at Peridance in a programme that combined the contemporary with the classical in an East-Meets-West cultural dialogue.

Two presentations at the Peridance Capezio Center combine works by three female choreographers who share a deep understanding of the Chinese dance practice, but approach this rich tradition from very different angles. Shanghai-born and NYC-based dancer and choreographer Yin Yue showed original works in contemporary style, showcasing her signature combination of emotional freedom and technical flair in pieces performed by members of Yin Yue Dance Company. Her works wrer complemented by a selection of traditional pieces of Chinese classical and folk dance, performed by all-female 21-piece ensemble of students from the Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School. The idea behind the program is a unique synthesis of two different dance idioms – of East and West, improvisation and composition, of emotion and technique, of modernity and ancient tradition.

Yin Yue Dance Company has been founded in 2012 as a modern dance ensemble, consisting of collaborative team of freelancers, presenting original work incorporating variety of styles and approaches. The company’s mission is to find story in each movement, to investigate the subtle yet powerful visual images, to utilize the honest gesture and dig deeply into life in order to explore the unique personality and quality of each dancer and bring the essence out in each performance. The company has presented works in several dance festivals (including New York City Fringe in 2013 and Jacob’s Pillow Inside Out in 2012 and 2014) and venues such as Joyce SoHo Theater, Lincoln Center Rosh Hall, La MaMa ETC, and New York Live Arts. In 2013, the Company has taken their evening-length dance production Within Reach on tour in China. So far, the group produced three feature-length works, all of which premiered in NYC: We Have Been Here Before (2012), Within Reach (2013) and a collection of ensembles, duets and solos, presented under the common title An evening of Yin Yue Dance (2014).

Of their most recent presentation, The New York Times critic Brian Schaefer wrote: “That controlled tension and the sparse lighting and chilling soundscapes she favors add to an ominous atmosphere that Ms. Yin punctures with quick, precise gestures or paints with melting bodies.” YYDC are: Liane Aung, Luke Bermingham, Grace Whitworth, and Yin Yue.

Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School will bring to New York a series of gorgeous traditional Chinese dances, performed by their students and faculty. At Peridance Center, the students of Jiangxi Zhongshan will perform traditional and folk dance works complete with original score and lush handmade costumes. This performance marks the NYC and American debut for the award-winning dancers and choreographers who have never performed in front of the Western audiences. Founded in 1996 and located in Nanchang in Jiangxi province in the Southeast of the country, the school is the only private-run educational organization for dancers ranked among top Chinese professional dance schools. Its curriculum includes a 6-year Chinese traditional dance and ballet program – while its approach, very unique among other similar institutions in the country, emphasizes international collaboration and communication and frequently organizes trips for students to attend various performances in order to enhance their understanding not only of performance skills and stage presence, but also creativity, independence and artistic freedom rarely presented to Chinese dance adepts.

From its inception, the school has been run by Yin Yue’s parents and her personal connection to its program was crucial in creating new opportunities for its students. “It is not a coincidence that I decided to devote my life to dance,” says Yin Yue. “This commitment was already present in my family for two generations, and has deeply influenced my upbringing and later my determination to create possibilities for young dancers of China to expand their creative horizons not only through traditional training that is offered to them in their home country, but also through insight into modern Western approach. I believe the where different cultures cross-pollinate is where most interesting art is born.”

One of the most important aspects of this presentation is familiarizing the audience not only with the ancient tradition of Chinese dancing, which – in different forms – has been increasingly present in New York, but also the current state of the art in China: both in its local form, as presented by dancers of Jiangxi Zhongshan School, and in the form highly transformed by Western influences and individual approach of Yin Yue Dance Company. Yin Yue is hoping to establish this presentation as an annual event, not only showcasing emerging Chinese artists and her own work, but also creating a platform for the young Chinese to be exposed to Western audiences, artist and ideas, rarely available to them due to Internet access restriction and limited international exchange possibilities.

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