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Thursday July 7th

China’s first independent dance company to perform at UNC

Will present two shows, visit class

	<p>Dancers of BeijingDance/LDTX perform “The Cold Dagger.” The dance company will be performing at Memorial Hall tonight and tomorrow. Courtesy of Anne Cecile Guthmann</p>
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Dancers of BeijingDance/LDTX perform “The Cold Dagger.” The dance company will be performing at Memorial Hall tonight and tomorrow. Courtesy of Anne Cecile Guthmann

It wasn’t until 2005 that China had an independent professional dance company.

Tonight, that company will perform at Memorial Hall.

If You Go

Time: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Location: Memorial Hall

Price: Tickets are $10 for students and $20 to $55 for the general public.

BeijingDance/LDTX — Lei Dong Tian Xia, or Thunder Rumbles Under Heaven — is stopping at UNC as part of an international tour.

On Tuesday, the company will perform “Unspeakable,” and Wednesday night, they will perform a number of pieces, including “All River Red (Rite of Spring),” a dance to Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 composition.

Willy Tsao — now the artistic director for BeijingDance — previously directed each of China’s official modern dance companies.

“Everything was paid for,” he said. “But of course the price is they do only works they are asked (by the government) to do.”

Tsao directed the first modern dance company in China, which was started after the Cultural Revolution in 1979 when the Chinese government began to be more permissive of Western influence.

The government had previously considered modern dance to be a capitalist device of corruption, Tsao said.

He said that sentiment was evident at one of the company’s first dances.

“It was probably like going to see a porno. You’re scared to be seen,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean they didn’t like it.”

Mark Nelson, director of marketing for Carolina Performing Arts, said it will be interesting to compare BeijingDance’s performances to those of other dance companies that have come to UNC this year.

“You’re going to have a group of highly skilled dancers performing works similar to what we’ve seen previously, but they’ve lived through this cultural oppression that’s difficult for us to imagine,” he said.

Tsao said modern dance was an important social development in China.

“The audience can freely interpret it, associate it with their own experience, own understanding,” he said.

“This is what we’re trying to promote in China as a modern dancer. It is not an American form of art, but it is a new way of thinking, a new way of understanding the world.”

The Chinese government gives the company only two criteria — no complete nudity on stage and no direct criticism against the government, Tsao said.

“But besides that, they’ve made a lot of room for us to say what’s on our mind,” Tsao said. “All of my dancers feel free.”

The company held a master class Monday and is visiting professor Robin Visser’s Post-Mao Chinese Urban Culture and Arts class Tuesday before their performance. Others are welcome to attend.

Visser said she looks forward to seeing the performance Wednesday.

“I sense more creative energy is coming out of Beijing these days than any other city in the world,” she said.

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