This dance is based on the traditional Chinese ten kung fu dance – yin yang – but it also borrows many ideas from the European and American forms, most especially from Japanese jazz. The yin yang dance has become popular in America’s dance halls, and has recently taken to the stage at the world’s biggest international dances, the International Ballet. It has even been taught as a public school dance in Japan, and the dance and instructor are named after the ten kung fu masters from China – Chu, Yao and Wang.
What’s behind my fear of the yin yang dance?
Dance is always a big part of Chinese culture, and in particular, the ten kung fu dancers at the Tai Chi studio that we visited were not only dancers, they were martial artists. For them, dancing was their art, their work, their business – the reason they practiced Tai Chi. For us, the reason for our fear is that they are not dancers – they are martial artists. When this dance looks as if it’s a martial artists dance, we’re in danger.
So are we sure you’re not faking this?
No, there’s no question about it. As a result of this dance’s association with martial arts, the danger is clear, but we also think the way the dance is presented doesn’t represent how this dance really feels. We chose to include the dance for us because when we’re teaching, people want to get closer to the art and to the instructor, and so we try to create a more personal experience for them. In China, it’s a bit similar to the way jazz musicians practice. If you look at how Chinese people dance, people like Wu Jian and Wu Zhong practice on a grand scale, with hundreds of participants, they are extremely difficult to explain to non-Chinese. It would be really difficult for an American to understand this Chinese dance. So we try to get people to feel like they got closer to their teacher and were able to learn something in the process.
What about the name?
Although it’s called yin yang, that’s what we chose for the name. In Chinese, the name yin yang means ‘unlocking one’s mind’ – and the idea behind this name is that there’s a deep connection between your emotions when you’re dancing and what you can do in the dance. So we gave it a more abstract, romantic feel that could also be applied to a relationship
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