Renewed choreographer presents experimental modern dance in Guangzhou
Bi Ran

Internationally renowned choreographer and dancer Hou Ying recently brought the dance theater that bears her name to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou for a modern dance workshop titled Yuan22.

The showcase is the debut of the one-month training-performance project and channels the artist's years of experience into an experimental performance that interprets how people react to change in a time of uncertainty.

"I've created many big and small dance workshops since I returned to China. But time is definitely not enough to improve dancers' creativity. I've always dreamed of setting up such a long-term camp for modern dance," Hou said.

Hou is among the first group of Chinese contemporary dancers to achieve fame abroad. Her career as a dancer and choreographer for over four decades includes several years in New York, where she graced the stage of Lincoln Center from 2001 to 2009. In 2002, she joined the famous New York Shen Wei Dance Group. In 2004, she was named Outstanding Dancer of the Year by the New York Times.

"The biggest challenge for me this time is whether to present a full-length work to an audience or just do a showcase. I decided to be sincere and honest and let the audience see the 'working process,' which is a concept I had always hoped to bring back to China," she told CGTN.

Hou Ying (L) during Yuan22 rehearsals. /CGTN

Hou Ying (L) during Yuan22 rehearsals. /CGTN

In 2009, Hou returned to China and founded the Hou Ying Dance Theater. Integrating Western skills and Chinese philosophies, her works are open, independent and bold.

Kevin Polak is the creative director of Yuan 22 and Hou's good friend. He led the improvisation classes in the training camp. He told CGTN that it's a nice project where mentors create while teaching. 

"So what we teach results into a performance. I think it's nice because it's also good for our young dancers to have a different view, different expressions, different experiences and different techniques that they are not used to," said Polak.

He believes it's a good opportunity for young Chinese dancers to touch on different dancing concepts. "Chinese dancers have very good techniques. I hope to bring them more arts experience that only I have. So they will open up the outlook," he said.

It's not easy to invite international mentors during the coronavirus, though. Hou told CGTN the pandemic was a catalyst for her work as an artist and that she sees art as a way to cope with anxiety.

Her latest work conveys the idea of body discovery. The performers break the boundary between the theater and outdoor space, presenting the performance inside and outside the Guangzhou Opera House, aiming to empower human beings at a time when it is much needed.

"Creation of artwork comes with conflicts, which make us reflect. So many creations do happen after such an experience. People's anxiety cannot change the pandemic at all. So why do you hold the stress? You need to dissolve it," Hou said.

"As individuals, we should focus on our own things, build our own world. This is an effective way to deal with and fight uncertainty. Art, at present, is a good way to ease the fear from uncertainty," she said.

Search Trends