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  • From Trinidad to Beijing: Dai Ailian and the Beginnings of Chinese Dance

    Emily Wilcox

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


    This chapter examines the early history of Chinese dance during the War of Resistance Against Japan and the Chinese Civil War. It follows the biography of Dai Ailian, a Chinese diaspora dancer and choreographer who studied and performed ballet and modern dance in England before emigrating to China, via Hong Kong, in 1941. It outlines the competing visions of cultural modernization that existed during the wartime period, beginning with the Yan’an national forms debates, Mao Zedong’s ideas about revolutionary literature and arts. It contrasts this with Wu Xiaobang’s idea of New Dance, inspired by his studies of German modern dance in Tokyo. Finally, it examines the Frontier Music and Dance Plenary held in Chongqing in 1946 and explains that this event introduced the three defining features of Chinese dance. It discusses parallel dance developments in Urumqi, Xinjiang, and Kunming, Yunnan, during the same period. It also mentions early tours of Chinese dance to Southeast Asia and the United States and discusses dance at the 1949 All-China Literature and Arts Worker Representative Congress on the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Wilcox, E. 2019. From Trinidad to Beijing: Dai Ailian and the Beginnings of Chinese Dance. In: Wilcox, E, Revolutionary Bodies. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.58.b

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Jan. 1, 2019


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