Company amazed us with their profuse energy and skill.
of Grand Performances
to the Beijing Modern Dance Company
effluent Grand Performances Watercourt stage fountains
could not extinguish the Beijing Modern Dance Company's
blaze Friday night, August 29th. In their American debut,
each of the Company's exhibitions displayed their fiery
spirit with true talent and strength. Though the heat
left them sweltering, the audience was in awe.
in futuristic attire, thirteen male and female dancers,
introduced themselves in Chinese with "I come from
" while gesticulating.
bound sacrificial maiden-the non-conformist. Courtesy
of Grand Performances
Come From" is rooted in ancient Chinese literature
where some Chinese youth embark upon an odyssey searching
for Kunlun, the passageway to heaven where the Gods
met their ancestors at the beginning of time.
"I Come From" was followed by the three part
"Prayer in the Dusk," which illustrated that
"every man has a burden," and focused on the
inner self of a struggling human being.
to the Muslim call to prayer, Part I was a graceful
and acrobatic solo where the male dancer confronts his
demons, as he writhes in his self-exorcism.
couple rendering the dualism of love in a dance, set
to traditional Indian music, made up Part II. Here,
love changes from being tender, sensual and egalitarian,
to domineering. The female dominates. She seems to love
him, but she clearly wears the pants. He takes the subordinate
position, standing on his knees as if begging for kindness,
while she stands and looks down on him. The music strongly
suggested tender, sensual love throughout, though the
dance depicts more varying emotions, solidifying the
inconsistency of love.
piece for Part III of "Prayer in the Dusk,"
a trio performed to a Greek song where the man struggles
to choose between two women.
"Prayer in the Dusk" was "Blown,"
a chaotic, comical rendition of American corporate office
culture scored to the Chinese Pipa musical piece, "Ambush
on All Sides." Setting traditional folk music to
a modern setting establishes that office culture is
just a modernized setting where workers will play while
the boss is away.
Company performs "One Table, Two Chairs,"
though not at Grand Performances. Courtesy of
Company closed their performance with the 40-minute
"All River Red," a dance manifesting the demise
of the non-conformist. The music chosen for this striking
piece was Igor Stravinsky's famous 1913 classical piece,
"The Rite of Spring,"
of the music's pagan theme, in which a maiden is sacrificed
to propitiate the gods, my interpretation is that these
power-crazed deities demanded the female's elimination
because her resistance offended them. The conformists
bound and blind-folded her. Initially she didn't resist,
as if to say: "Do away with me. What do I care?
I don't want to have to go on living with you drones
anyway!" Then she began to feel a longing to be
part of the group again. She tried to wriggle herself
free from her binds, but was never released.
her removal, everything temporarily returns to normal,
but oppression took the reigns, prematurely stamping
out future rebellions.
Beijing Modern Company was founded in 1995,
and just a year later won the Wen Hua Award,
China's national dance prize.
the appointment of Willy Tsao as Artistic
Director in 1999, the Company brought home
the Bielorussian International Choreography
BMDC is revered for starting the annual Modern
Dance Festival, for incorporating traditions
of the many ethnic groups in China, and for
River Red" models the struggle modern dance has
faced trying to develop in China. Though the dance shows
a continuing uphill battle, the BMDC is clearly making
waves in the West. Incorporating modern dance into a
culture rooted in ancient traditions would inevitably
be-at the very least-a struggle, if not a battle. Nonetheless,
I hope the BMDC will hold fast to their dream and keep
pushing ahead. I eagerly await their return.
Modern Dance Company's website is bmdc.com.cn. Please
note, it's all in Mandarin.