Categories: THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: Performance, Poetry and the Beijing Dance Theater

Article by Antoinette Genevieve

February 2, 2019

Upon entering the Balboa Theater I was greeted by an audience as diverse as the talents of choreographer, director and dancer, Wang Yuanyuan. As an active partner in student engagement, ArtPower offers and often encourages students to attend events much like the performance offered by the Beijing Dance Theater last Wednesday evening.

Much like the critics from the Washington Post who raved about the Beijing Dance Theater performance being, “An invigorating experience . . . Sheer visual beauty,” I found the performance captivating, intriguing, and far beyond anything I had anticipated. The evening program included selections from Hamlet; Wild Grass; and Crossing—which “traces the struggles of the individual dancers to mark the emptiness, and sets lyrical movement against the stark realities of the space and sound.” Each had its own effective statement, and the poetic romanticism that waxed and waned throughout the show was a nuanced, yet effective in creating an emotional inner dialogue.

Powerful and immersive, the show began with a more industrial energy. The first segment of the performance found the dancers moving between ballet, modern, and more traditional Chinese dance elements. Watching them, I realized there was a cultural element that may have been overlooked by those that were unfamiliar. For some it was simply modern dancers accompanied by harsh metallic music and energetic lighting, for me it was a hearkening back to my youthful experiences with Chinese Opera and the gestural elements that were present throughout the performance. In each segment that followed the dancers bodies wailed against the space they inhabited, allowing for the overarching impact of nuanced power to reach out into the audience.

The most pervasive impression I had upon leaving the theater was one of awe. Not only had the Beijing Dance Theater presented audiences with a spectacular visual performance, but they allowed for the expansion of the experience without restraint. In all there were excellent musical accompaniments, intriguing and thought provoking insinuations throughout, and moreover the lights and slight changes in wardrobe were more impressive due to their simplicity.  

“And there remains only the vast wilderness; this dried couple, completely naked, sword in hand, stand in the middle. With dead men’s eyes they observe with gusto the withering passers-by in a great bloodless carnage. They are eternally plunged into life’s giddy, excruciating bliss. ”

-Third Movement, Dance of Extremity. Wild Grass excerpt. Lu Xun

Photo credit: Han Jiang

About Beijing Dance Theater

Founded in 2008, Beijing Dance Theater is led by its choreographer, Wang Yuanyuan, together with visual artists Tan Shaoyuan and Hanjiang. Born and raised in Beijing, Wang is one of China’s leading modern dance choreographers. She prides herself on being rooted in Chinese traditions, while at the same time producing innovative, authentic, and thought-provoking contemporary dance works for the world stage. BDT has collaborated with many internationally renowned dramatists, musicians and designers, enriching the international dance stages with its world-class productions, each of which represents the highest level of Chinese contemporary dance.

Wild Grass Video Link:

About ArtPower

ArtPower at UC San Diego presents performing arts that engage, energize, and transform the diverse cultural life of the university and San Diego. Through vibrant, challenging, multi-disciplinary performances, ArtPower seeks to develop more empathetic students and community members who are better prepared to engage in the world around them through their participation in high-quality artistic, educational, and engagement programs that broaden thinking and awareness, deepen understanding, and encourage new dialogues across UC San Diego and the community.

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