With students of Beijing Dance Academy performing work by Uygur and Mongolian ethnic groups, an exhibition, titled Boundaryless Dancing, opened at Rose Bud Art Center in Beijing's 798 Art Zone on Nov 7.
The weeklong exhibition, with installations, photos, graphics, music and performances, showcases the development and achievement of Chinese ethnic folk dance at the Beijing Dance Academy since it was established in 1954.
According to Huang Yihua, a professor of Beijing Dance Academy's Chinese ethnic folk dance department, since the establishment of Beijing Dance Academy in 1954, Chinese ethnic folk dance has been built up as an academic major. Based on Chinese traditional and ethnic folk dance culture, the department has developed Chinese folk dance teaching system and has been promoting cultural exchange programs of Chinese folk dance worldwide.
"When we decided to do the exhibition, we wanted to present a look at Chinese ethnic folk dance through a fresh perspective. Thus, we work with the college of public art of the China Academy of Art to bring an exhibition featuring artworks beyond music and dance," says Huang.
In 1980, 31 Chinese young people became the first group of students of the university, who gained a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese ethnic folk dance. Their photos of training in classrooms, lives in the university and dancing onstage are being displayed during the exhibition, reviewing the past six decades of the history of Chinese ethnic folk dance of Beijing Dance Academy.
Huang notes that during the past six decades, students and teachers have traveled nationwide to learn and collect firsthand materials of Chinese ethnic folk dance. For example, they've recently invited dancers from the haiyang yangko (a popular folk dance in Haiyang, Yantai, Shandong province) team to give workshops and the dance team was invited to give a show during the exhibition.
While students and faculty members trying to maintain the tradition of Chinese ethnic folk dance, it's also an important job for them to bring new lives to the old art forms.
"One of the best ways to keep the traditional art forms alive and progressing is to combine those old art forms with the latest technology. We used installations and multimedia approaches to create a new kind of art based on the Chinese ethnic folk dances we've already known," says Ruan Yuelai, deputy director of the college of public art of China Academy of Art. Ruan adds that the students of both universities participated in the exhibition, which expanded their visions for their own art learning process.
One of the largest installations has veils falling down from the high ceiling. Videos of Chinese ethnic dances are projected on the veils while students dance in the veils.
"Usually dancers perform onstage in theaters and a gap exists between the dancers and audiences. But the exhibition breaks the conventional gap. Dancers perform with visitors walking around," says Jia Siyue, who graduated from the Chinese ethnic folk dance department of Beijing Dance Academy in 2018 and has been working with the university.