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.
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