Tuesday, November 11, 2008

spicy city - 120 dishes

Sharing lunch with five members of the Sichuan Modern Dance Company, I count 120 dishes on the table. Eating and laughing: A must in Chengdu.

pressing the body into the wall

TASK for the Sichuan Modern Dancers: Press the Body into the Wall and Wait. Why do the dancers have such a hard time simply to wait (Is it because they are on top of each other?) Imagine you are on the stage and in front of you is the public. I guide them with words: "Use direct address, eye contact and silence from the stage to the public. Give them Silence. Give them time." The words help-they are able to wait.

the golden mask

At the Jinsha Site Museum outside of Chengdu, I'm wowed by how many years humans have lived in the region [well? How many?} and by the culture of the Shu Kingdom. This is a rare relic --- a golden mask used in classical Chinese dances. To appreciate and understand the different ethnicities of China today and the dances performed by the Sichuan Song and Dance Troupe, do I need to know ancient Chinese history?
Chengdu located in southwest China, is the capital of Sichuan province and a sub-provincial city. It is the fifth most populous city in China.
More than four thousand years ago, the prehistorical Bronze Age culture of Jinsha established itself in this region.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

identity transformation

Five days ago: The Sichuan Modern Dance Company dancers explore their individual identity: Their movement task is to pinch and pull on their skin and others meanwhile transform their daily dance outfit into fashion. In the end they posed for the camera.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Present to Past

To understand - to communicate - to have a movement dialogue with the dancers - to provoke new movements that arise somewhere between my knowledge of dance and theirs, I have the need to get a sense of their culture from the present to the past. Images: Near Zouma Street after midnight - Wen Shu Temple.
Do we need to discover someone's environment and learn about their historical cultural background to understand their movement choices?

I have no idea what you are saying

How much are word and movement connected? How would I be able to teach a contemporary dance class, which is based on discovery of the body and not on imitation of movements, without a translator? My translator, english name: Gary is great. I'm depending on him. My eyes are getting very sharp in observation the dancers’ motion. I'm able to see on the dancers movement when Gary interpreted my content in another direction then I wanted. English is not my native language. Maybe I choose English words that a native English speaker would not use. Maybe I create my own meanings. I have a lot of hands-on working to do on the bodies to re-direct them into the movement direction in which I ask them to go.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


'm walking around my neighborhood: downtown Chengdu near Zouma Street... I hear and see nothing about the American election. People shop. I don't expect the Chinese to take too much of an interest. Just like people in the U.S. didn't notice when Hu Jintao took over from Jiang Zemin. How much is the political direction of a country relevant for developing new dance forms?

focus on the ordinary - focus on the virtuosic

Five days ago: Li Yan (dancer Jessey of the Sichuan Modern Dance Company) and I posed in front of the SICHUAN SONG AND DANCE ENSEMBLE ART SCHOOL. I sat with my eyes closed - she took a virtuosic pose. Simplicity against Complexity. Can an ordinary minimalist movement be virtuosic to a viewer if it is placed in a certain context on stage?

exposing their flesh

Interaction with yours and the other partner 's skin - Dancers pinching and pulling their own skin...the individual dancer gives a false name to a body part ...their dance partner gives the honest name to the body part ...WHO TO BELIEVE?

So they told me: in the old asian philosophy they believed the sky is round and the earth is square

Six days ago: Contemporary technique class: the body + architecture + mind...We create an "Asian" sky on the square floor: Who is Who? All their names sound the same for me at this moment. I can only remember the few who have adopted English names: Jessy and Tiger... In the circle lying down: after each dancer describes their breath aloud, they softly rock back and forth with head and limbs...their response to that experience: We never before were that close to each other. Nose to Nose. Ear to Ear. Mouth to Mouth. Hair to Hair. Shoulder to Shoulder. Knee to Knee. Toe to Toe.

I have to adapt to the reality

A week ago: I met the dancers of the Sichuan Modern Dance Company for the first time. These dancers are under the auspices of the traditional government-owned company the "Sichuan Song and Dance Troupe". The director Zhou Jian Jun explained that they have only been practicing modern dance for a few months. So how about contemporary dance? Do they have a concept of the difference between modern and contemporary dance? We have an intense conversation. The dancers watch my dance work "escalator", which I created for the World Financial Center lobbies in New York City. Their response: "Can the audience understand this work? This is soooooo different than anything we have ever seen. How can we in our traditional dance get a new voice?" I feel they have a hunger for new dance forms. I'm lying in my hotel room bed…awake. Reflecting. I have to adapt to their reality. Does each new thing (NEW! Is it possible?) arise out of the old? How could new dance form look for them? My dance work grew gradually out of practice and being exposed from modern to post-modern dance to arrive to the contemporary=my own style. Would contemporary have to mean something different for my Chinese colleagues?

New York to Zurich to Beijing to Chengdu

On my way to Chengdu, China to work the first time with the Sichuan Modern Dance Company. Four different beds - Four different views. Who are my neighbors? Where they come from? Do they love to dance? Which picture is from what country?

One Picture is the view out of my sister Martina's home. The other Picture is the view out of my new friend (I know here only for a day) Fabienne's balcony, one other picture is a view out of a hotel room window and an other one is out of my home.