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  • Locating Chinese Dance: Bodies in Place, History, and Genre

    Emily Wilcox

    Chapter from the book: Wilcox, E. 2019. Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy.


    This chapter begins with a discussion of water sleeve dance at the Beijing Dance Academy. It explains that Chinese dance is a modern twentieth-century concert genre that takes inspiration from existing performance practices, such as folk performance, xiqu, and ethnic minority performance. It introduces the main categories of Chinese dance, including Chinese classical dance and Chinese national folk dance, and it discusses the scope of contemporary and historical Chinese dance practice in China and the Sinophone world. It also discusses the history of Chinese dance and outlines key dance theories proposed by Dai Ailian and Choe Seung-hui. It argues that Chinese dance originated in the 1940s and 1950s in the context of socialist revolution and socialist nation-building. It proposes that kinesthetic nationalism, ethnic and spatial inclusiveness, and dynamic inheritance are defining features of the genre. It argues that these features of Chinese dance differentiate the genre from earlier experiments by Qing palace dancer Yu Rongling and Peking opera star Mei Lanfang. It also argues that Maoist culture and socialism encouraged artistic innovation and that Chinese dance has become less revolutionary during the post-Mao period.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Wilcox, E. 2019. Locating Chinese Dance: Bodies in Place, History, and Genre. In: Wilcox, E, Revolutionary Bodies. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.58.a

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    Published on Jan. 1, 2019


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