Students Showcase Their Dance Skills Through Classical Ballet and Classical Chinese Dance

By Shiwen Rong

NEW YORK—From “The Dying Swan” ballet piece to the classic Chinese legendary story of “The Monkey King,” students from the Fei Tian College (FTC)-Middletown performed at the Martha Graham dance studio on Dec. 1-2.

Audience members were impressed by the inner beauty expressed by the young dancers’ skills at the 2018 Winter Dance Concert.

“I thought the dance is beautiful the dancers are wonderful,” said Adam Oliensis, a comedian and a former actor.

“Their youth, and their vigor, and their commitment and their ability to sort of just fill out the form with what was inside them.”

“So for such young people they just did a marvelous job with that.”

FTC-Middletown is known as the first of very few colleges in the nation that offers classical Chinese dance and classical ballet in Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees.

Marnie Thomas Wood, a former soloist at the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the co-founder of University of California Berkeley’s dance program, started to dance when she was 3 years old. She and her former student Blakeley White-McGuire, an award-winning dancer and educator, were blown away by the classical Chinese dance performance.

“I think it’s fascinating, both because it has such physical output in terms of fully, thoroughly, deeply,” said Wood, “and it also has [a] quite wonderful dramatic quality of surrender and feeling, attached to the athleticism.”

“So there’s a range and they reached that range with exciting movements and then with very subtle attraction. It’s a very versatile group,” said Wood.

To learn those movements, students need to understand the culture and history behind those stories. The art form becomes a tangible expression of the beauty of the culture.

White-McGuire said that she really enjoys seeing students embrace classical dance and learn the classical forms.

“The vocabulary is so exciting. Really striking physicality and it’s just wonderful to see those stories passed on generation to generation, and to see new bodies take it in.”

The college teachers all emphasize the importance of both discipline and artistry. Therefore, to portray the character well, it should come from the heart.

“The direction of teaching is to teach the student first to be a good person,” said Mingye Liu, Classical Chinese Dance Instructor of FTC-Middletown.

“Classical dance is about integrating the inner beauty into the performance.”

FTC-Middletown is opening its enrollment to all freshman and transfer students and is hosting an Open House on Dec. 9.

For more information please visit college website mt.feitian.edu or contact the admissions office at (845) 293-2608, [email protected]