Classical Chinese dance brings traditional Chinese culture to the world, according to William Li, a principal dancer for Shen Yun Performing Arts and a judge for the NTD Classical Chinese Dance competition this year.
“The dancers will have a narrative piece and also a technical piece. So in the narrative piece, you will see them portray a lot of different characters from Chinese history, from 5,000 years history, they can portray any single character, because classical Chinese dance is very, very expressive,” Mr. Li said. “And in the technical piece, you’ll see a lot of different and very amazing and spectacular technical movements.”
“Classical Chinese dance has 5,000 years of history. So through generations and through dynasties, classical Chinese dance has been passed down through the imperial courts and through the people. And throughout time, it has been absorbing the essence of Chinese history and Chinese culture. And what you see on stage today is accumulation of all that history and culture.”
Regarding other forms of dance, Mr. Li said: “modern dance really emphasizes freedom of expression, I would say, and fluidity, but in classical Chinese dance, there are still guidelines, and we call this ‘shen fa.’ So this is the name of the poses, the requirement for the poses, and everything in between, like the process.”
The purpose of the NTD International Classical Chinese Dance Competition is to promote authentic dance characterized by beauty, goodness, and purity. But, how can dancers best demonstrate these values in their performances?
“The most important thing is to try to put these values and live by these values in your daily lives. So the way that you carry yourself normally is going to be how you carry yourself onstage, and it’s going to reflect your dance movements.”
His message to contestants: “It’s really a competition against yourself, you can always compete multiple times, then it doesn’t matter how you place, but as long as you’re improving year over year—and that’s something that I’ve been seeing every time—you guys are definitely improving. So just keep it up and see if you improve every year, compete with yourself.”
As for his hopes for the impact the competition will have on the world: “I really hope that this competition can help raise more awareness, and just shed more light on what classical Chinese dance is. And I hope that it can reach more people because it’s something that is really, really beautiful. And Chinese culture is something that is so rich, so beautiful. And I think more people can learn about it.”
“There’s a lot of wisdom I feel that you can learn from traditional Chinese culture. And it’s something that can be very impactful, not only to your own life, but maybe even to your business. So I think it’s something that’s beneficial to society.”