Bei­jing the­ater’s Poi­sonous Ap­ple delves into emo­tions with ac­tiv­ity

Bei­jing Dance The­ater’s lat­est pre­sen­ta­tion, Poi­sonous Ap­ple, is to de­but in De­cem­ber. Chen Nan re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at chen­nan@chi­

I am shy and in­tro­verted. Con­tem­po­rary dance en­ables me to talk.” Wang Yuanyuan, modern dancer-chore­og­ra­pher emo­tions.

Lots of green ap­ples dot the stage as a dancer with red lip­stick, smoky eyes and a black high-col­lar fluffy dress walks slowly. A group of dancers hold­ing an ap­ple each emerge be­hind her and move grace­fully af­ter the lead dancer starts to run.

This scene is from a re­hearsal of Poi­sonous Ap­ple, the lat­est work of 43-year-old lead­ing modern dancer-chore­og­ra­pher Wang Yuan yuan.

Per­formed by mem­bers of her Bei­jing Dance The­ater, a con­tem­po­rary bal­let troupe, the show will premiere in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal on Dec 10. Poi­sonous Ap­ple is the first of Wang’s three-piece dance series, Poi­son. The other two, Opium and Hand of God, are ex­pected to be staged next year.

In­spired by French poet Charles Baude­laire’s fa­mous work, The Flow­ers of Evil, Wang ex­plores hu­man emo­tions, such as de­sire, ob­ses­sion, am­bi­tion and temp­ta­tion, through body move­ments.

“We are poi­soned by many things, like fall­ing in love, chas­ing dreams and wor­ship­ing idols. Our lives and moods are in­flu­enced and changed by such things,” says Wang, the founder and artis­tic di­rec­tor of Bei­jing Dance The­ater.

“Like the poet wrote, th­ese de­sires fill the soul be­yond ca­pac­ity.”

Along­side ex­cerpts from the troupe’s other works, The Nightin­gale and the Rose, and Farewell, Shad­ows from the tril­ogy Wild Grass, Wang led the dancers to give a 20-minute dis­play of Poi­sonous Ap­ple in Aus­tria at the Fest­spiel­haus St. Polten in Fe­bru­ary. She de­vel­oped the piece in the course of her res­i­dency there.

Wang founded the Bei­jing Dance The­ater in 2008 along with light­ing di­rec­tor Han Jiang and set de­signer Tan Shaoyuan. The troupe has since tried to con­nect with au­di­ences by prob­ing into the hu­man­mind with­Wang’s chore­og­ra­phy.

Born and raised in Bei­jing, Wang be­came a pro­fes­sional dancer at age 10 af­ter join­ing the mid­dle school of Bei­jing Dance Acad­emy, where she learned bal­let.

In 1995, she grad­u­ated from the acad­emy with a ma­jor in chore­og­ra­phy.

Three years later, she was named res­i­dent chore­og­ra­pher of the Na­tional Bal­let of China.

From 2000 to 2002, she was trained at the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Arts School of Dance in Los An­ge­les.

Her pas­sion for con­tem­po­rary dance de­vel­oped at a young age since she was not a fan of rou­tine train­ing or re­peat­ing move­ments, but was eager to cre­ate her own lan­guage.

“I am shy and in­tro­verted. Con­tem­po­rary dance en­ables me to talk,” she says.

“I feel re­lieved and real whenI ex­press­my­self through dance.”

She has chore­ographed for China’s top film­mak­ers, in­clud­ing a bal­let for Zhang Yi­mou’s 1991 film, Raise the Red Lan­tern, and the dance se­quences for Feng Xiao­gang’s film The Ban­quet of 2006.

She has chore­ographed for big events, such as the re­turn of Hong Kong in 1997 and the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Bei­jing Olympics in 2008.

Her troupe, which func­tions with­out fi­nan­cial sup­port from the govern­ment, has be­come a fea­ture at in­ter­na­tional dance fes­ti­vals.

In 2011, she de­buted her work, Haze, at the Kennedy Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton. Wang cre­ated the piece in 2009, link­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues like pol­lu­tion to emo­tional con­fu­sion.

The same year, Wang did a stage adap­ta­tion of the 16th­cen­tury Chi­nese novel, Jin Ping Mei (The Golden Lo­tus), one of China’s most erotic works.

Pre­miered in Hong Kong in March 2011 and com­mis­sioned by the Hong Kong Arts Fes­ti­val, the work stirred strong re­sponses when it toured the main­land. While Wang said that the work was more about women’s fight to find their voice in the mas­sive so­cial trans­for­ma­tion of the coun­try, some of her crit­ics de­scribed the piece as just some­thing that showed sex and cor­rup­tion.

Wang and her troupe didn’t do public per­for­mances for a year af­ter that.

In 2013, she re­turned with the Wild Grass series, in­spired by three of the most evoca­tive es­says of Chi­nese writer Lu Xun (1881-1936): Dead Fire, The Shadow’s Leave-Tak­ing and Dance of Ex­trem­ity.

“I am proud of my dancers, who, like me, de­vote them­selves to what they like to do,” she says, adding that they prac­tice dance from 10amto 5 pm daily.

The troupe tours ev­ery year, mostly abroad. Poi­sonous Ap­ple has been booked for shows in Europe in 2017.

But for Wang, she still wants to help de­velop the do­mes­tic mar­ket even though con­tem­po­rary dance is still in its in­fancy in the coun­try.

“There are many young Chi­nese who are in­ter­ested in our per­for­mances. They are the hope of Chi­nese troupes,” says Wang.


Per­form­ers from the Bei­jing Dance The­ater re­hearse for the troupe’s up­com­ing show, Poi­sonousAp­ple.

Wang Yuanyuan’s lat­est work Poi­sonousAp­ple ex­plores hu­man

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