DANCE ORIGIN: China
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Ye Feng
First appearance in SF EDF: 2018
Feng Ye Dance Company was established in 2017 by Ye Feng, former President and Artistic Director of the Dance Company of China National Song and Dance Troupe. She has received numerous professional awards for performances and choreography, including Chinese Ministry of Culture’s “National First-Class Dancer,” and performed in Athens and Beijing for the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and 2014 World Youth Olympic Games. The company is committed to producing new dance work based on Chinese aesthetics and traditional culture, and inviting a variety of ideas in different forms of art, including experimental dance concepts.
TITLE: The Chinese Soul
CHOREOGRAPHER/SOLOIST: Ye Feng
The Chinese Soul is a showcase of Chinese dance and culture, an invitation to open a window and look inside. Ye Feng is soloist and choreographer.
From its origins in folk forms and religious practices, Chinese dance has focused on heaven, the divine, and the universe, and has long been performed in support of beauty, the human spirit, moral character, and willpower. Classical Chinese dance was codified in the 1950s by Beijing Dance Academy artists. It integrates dance postures from ancient texts and sculptures, elements from folk forms, Russian and French ballet, and many components of traditional Chinese Opera, including martial arts.
This new choreography is a contemporary montage/collage of references and fragments of Chinese culture. Ye Feng writes, “I am interested in many aspects of Chinese culture, ranging from the classic works by Confucius to essential cultural techniques of ancient scholars and nobles, expressing the spirit and soul of the Chinese nation passed down from generation to generation for more than 5,000 years.”
As The Chinese Soul merges traditions, it carries:
-from Confucianism, an emphasis on ceremony and etiquette, a respect for
heaven and earth;
-from tai chi practice, the dancer’s centered breath and rhythmic continuity that “expresses the Chinese Soul;”
-from American modern dance, an expression of inner emotional states;
-from ancient Daoist philosophy, the concept of yin and yang, the understanding of contrasting/complimentary halves creating a whole, as in: Earth/Heaven represented by square/circle; the balancing of slow/fast, strength/grace; and a female dancer performing passages of masculine dance.
The costume—designed by Ye Feng—is made of treasured, ancient Chinese textiles, decorated with imperial waves, the auspicious color red, and auspicious dragon and phoenix patterns to reference yin and yang.
The melody is traditional, Gaoshan Liushui—High Mountains and Flowing Water—created by musician Bo Ya around 400 B.C. as a gift for his good friend Zhong Ziqi. It is played by Feixue Yuan on a traditional Chinese musical instrument called the pipa, and it’s composed in a modern way, to help the dancer express the theme of the piece.
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