This weekend, the Beijing Modern Dance Company (BMDC) performed its critically acclaimed work "Oath - Midnight Rain" as part of its "Beijing Vision" program at the National Center for the Performing Arts, giving local audiences the rare opportunity to enjoy a piece first staged at the 2006 Venice Biennale. As Jing Daily wrote this September, modern and contemporary dance is enjoying something of a revival in China, exemplified by the turnout at the seventh annual China Lotus Award Modern and Contemporary Dance Competition held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.
Though dance companies are starting to pop up throughout the country, with the staging of "Beijing Vision", which has been performed around the world, the BMDC proves that it remains one of the country's preeminent dance troupes.
Oath - Midnight Rain, choreographed by BMDC's lead dancer and artistic director Gao Yanjinzi, illustrates her understanding of rebirth by casting a human's soul to be reborn in the forms of five objects from traditional Chinese painting: A flower, bird, fish, insect and grass.
"I admire Buddhism very much…In my opinion, birth and death are not absolute," Gao told the Global Times. "There are all kinds of sayings about rebirth. I did my own reflections and I use dance to illustrate my understanding," she explained, adding that people in the East more often see life as a circle while in the West it is often seen as lineal. "You either go to heaven or hell after you die."
To Gao, the five small entities better showcase life's elements as they highlight the conflicts and clashes between the inner ideals of a human being and the outside world.
The 45-minute piece features six dancers and is set to a mixture of music including pop, electronic, folk and sacred. A bride dressed in a red wedding gown links one dancer to another. In between are five solos as the bride's soul is reborn in the five different forms.
Upcoming performance events at the National Center for Performing Arts include the second running of "Jane Eyre," directed by Wang Xiaoying (December 14-23), the original opera "Farewell to Cambridge" (Dec. 15-19), and "Marco Polo," billed as the NCPA's "first original dance-drama" (Dec. 22-28).