My research focuses on Chinese classical dance. The form of Chinese classical dance is derived from a combination of ballet, traditional Chinese opera and Chinese martial arts. The core values of Chinese classical dance, however, is to represent the “essence of Chinese culture” (as articulated by the People’s Republic of China, from its creation till today). This research project seeks to question (1) how these traditional and foreign elements were combined to become Chinese classical dance, as well as (2) what issues might arise when Chinese classical dance is performed by contemporary Chinese people (who might identify differently from the official articulations of Chinese culture).
I seek to juxtapose a very fixed notion of Chinese culture, as articulated by the official Chinese classical dance syllabi, with the myriad of ethnic Chinese worldwide who identify as ‘Chinese’ in very varied ways. If the traditional dance form presents an ‘ideal Chineseness’ that the contemporary Chinese should strive towards, what challenges, or possibilities, would arise then, when contemporary bodies perform Chinese classical dance?