From China, with smiles…

Codarts , Rotterdamse Dansacademie, Bachelor Opleiding Dans, third year, Rotterdam, the Netherlands & Beijing Normal University, School of Art and Communication, Beijing, China TODAY @ 21:00 Compagnietheater

INTERVIEW by MEREL ZUIDERDUIN

Ever since we started writing our blog, we were put on a mission: talk to the Chinese dancers. They arrived this Friday and we´ve been trying to catch them for a chat. Somehow though, they always seemed to be busy. Then finally on Sunday they showed up during our morning coffee. They looked super hip and ready to hit town, but we were able to jump in and arrange for a meeting later that day. Just in time, because their performance is part of Monday evening´s double bill.

After all this, the thing I wondered most was: what are they doing, that keeps them so busy? In her best English one of the dancers, Xu Yao, tells me they have been sightseeing a lot.

Xu: `We made a boat-tour through the canals and we visited the Van Gogh and the Sex Museum and a performance in the Vondelpark. Amsterdam is such a romantic city and the people are all so kind and warm.`

I wonder where she gets that. In the five minutes that have past, she smiled at me more than what I get from Dutch people in an entire day. Actually they are all extremely polite. Chang Xianni, the choreographer, puts out an extremely friendly vibe even though I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, and we had to communicate through a translator.

Chang: ´Yesterday we went to see the National Ballet and joined the Silent Bow, a statement from the dancers towards your government that is destroying the arts. It´s a shame what is happening in your country, but at least you have the right to say something about it. That is a beautiful freedom. In China, politics determine the arts.´

Rumour has it, their performance is a traditional communist choreographed group dance. Zhu Min, a timid female dancer, tells me otherwise.

Zhu (firmly): `It´s dance, modern dance´. And then she and the others try to explain what their performance is about.

Zhu: `In China we have a hero, Sun Wukong, who was once king of the apes. He is very loved by little children. According to a myth he whispers in their ears while they sleep and stimulates them to do great things.´

Chang: `The piece is called Tuesday because Tuesday in China, is the day there is nothing on television. This means people have more time to think and lose themselves in their imagination´

I don´t fully understand the link between these two answers, but what I do understand is that the performance was originally danced in ape masks. Now, they perform in rabbit masks, because 2011 is the Chinese year of the rabbit. So, it´s modern dance in rabbit masks, about a man who whispers in little children´s ears while they sleep. This sounds strangely fascinating and makes me even more curious about what they are going to show us this evening.

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