Growing up in the golden state of California, Angela Lin started to learn classical Chinese dance at the age of 8 and has since embarked on a journey to discover her cultural roots.
“I wanted to be closer to my own culture, so I chose classical Chinese dance instead of ballet. I think I really understand my own culture better, and now I can express my inner emotions or feelings to the audience through the language of my body,” she said.
Today, Lin is a dance student at Feitian College in New York, where she learned a long-lost dance technique called “body leads the hands and hips lead the legs.”
“It’s as if your entire upper body is your arms, and the lower body, everything below the waist are your legs. In this way, your legs and arms feel really long. And when you perform on stage, you have to be able to communicate with the audience in the last row of the auditorium. They need to be able to see us very clearly. So we have to make the movements bigger, and ‘body leads the hands and hip leads the legs’ is able to achieve this,” Lin said.
With ten years of work and sweat, she has not only matured in her technique, but she’s also become more and more impressed by the profundity of classical Chinese dance—a cultural heritage with thousands of years of history.
“As an artist, you must be responsible to the audience and to yourself. Art is to express something beautiful. It is not to vent personal emotions or bring negative things to the audience. Therefore, your moral quality must be high, so that the energy you transmit or the aura you give to the audience will be very positive, and the audience will be able to receive it,” Lin said.
Classical Chinese dance often portrays ancient Chinese culture—a culture that existed before the Chinese Communist Party took power, and is therefore untainted by communism.
But the dance story Lin prepared for the competition has a contemporary setting. It tells the story of how some people uphold their faith despite the heavy persecution of the current Chinese regime.
“I wanted to portray a practitioner of Falun Dafa. She went through a complex internal change. I think the persecution they are suffering in China is still very serious, and then we are in the United States, a country where there is freedom of belief. We should speak up for them,” she said.
Angela Lin won the bronze medal in her first competition in 2018. But she said, as a dancer, it’s best not to focus on the rankings.
“The final result is not that important. I think the process of improvement is the most important because, for dance, there’s no end to it,” she added.